The abdomen and pelvis contain critical organs and structures that are vital to life. The digestive system occupies the majority of the abdomen and pelvis [Figure 1]. Additional organ systems include the urinary tract [kidneys and bladder] and reproductive organs in both men and female. All of the body’s cells normally grow, divide, and then die in order to keep the body healthy and functioning properly. Sometimes this process gets out of control: cells keep growing and dividing even when they are supposed to die. Uncontrolled growth of these cells leads to tumors which can be benign or malignant. Benign tumors grow locally but malignant tumors (cancer) can spread to other organs or parts of the body. Tumors of the digestive tract can involve any part of the digestive tract such as stomach, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, small bowel, colon, rectum, and anus. Tumors of the urinary tract can involve the kidneys, bladder, or ureters (the urine tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder). Tumors of the reproductive organs can involve the prostate and testicles in men and the vagina, cervix, uterus, ovaries, or fallopian tubes in women. In addition, tumors of bones, muscles or fat called sarcomas can involve the tissues surrounding the abdomen and pelvis. Lymphomas are tumors of the lymph glands. Other rare types of tumors can arise from nerves or blood vessels.
Figure 1 – The abdomen
What are the symptoms of abdominal and pelvic tumors?
While some tumors are found accidently during an imaging procedure or surgery, most tumors present with one or more symptoms. Due to the diversity and the number of internal organs inside the abdomen and pelvis, the symptoms can vary tremendously. The following is a list of some common symptoms:
- Abdominal pain or gas pains with or without vomiting
- Abnormal bleeding or excessive bleeding during menstrual cycles
- Back pain
- Blood in the urine
- Change in the stool caliber or narrowing of the stool
- Change in your normal bowel habits
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Fullness immediately after eating or inability to hold food down
- Incomplete emptying of the bowel
- Intestinal spasm with or without bloating
- Jaundice (skin and white of the eye turning yellow)
- Nausea with vomiting
- Night sweats
- Pain during sexual activity
- Rectal bleeding (bright red or dark blood)
- Swelling in the abdomen or palpable mass
- Unexplained weight loss
How are abdominal and pelvic tumors diagnosed?
The history and physical examination are the first step in evaluating patients with abdominal symptoms. If there is suspicion for a tumor, an imaging study is necessary to visualize the abdomen and pelvis. Ultrasound, CT scan (computed tomography) [Figure 2], MRI (magnetic resonance imaging scan), a PET CT (positron emission tomography scan) are some of the most commonly used imaging tests. Other types of nuclear scans are available for specific type of tumors including bone scans. Patients with tumors of the digestive tract require either Gastroscopy or Colonoscopy (or both) depending on the location and type of the tumor. Blood work and various tumor/cancer blood markers are recommended depending on the type of cancer. Some abdominal and pelvic tumors require a biopsy. Often this is performed using a needle under imaging guidance (ultrasound or CT).
Figure 2 – CT scan shows pelvic cancer. The cancer was removed in a 3-hour operation with laparoscopic camera surgery by Dr. Maher Abbas
How are abdominal and pelvic tumors treated?
Various treatment options are available to treat abdominal and pelvic tumors. The type, location, and stage of the tumor will determine the best treatment for an individual patient. Options include surgery, chemotherapy, biological therapy, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy, or any combination.
Are these tumors curable?
Many abdominal tumors can be cured. The type, location, and stage of the tumor will determine the type of treatment needed.
Why seek care with Dr. Maher Abbas?
The management of abdominal and pelvic tumors requires a high degree of expertise in cancer care. Dr. Maher Abbas is an American Board Certified colon and rectal surgeon with extensive expertise in colon and rectal surgery. He is a Diplomate of the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons. To date, Dr. Maher Abbas has performed over 15,000 operations and procedures. He is globally known for his colon and rectal surgery expertise and skills in minimally invasive surgical techniques.
Dr. Maher Abbas treats tumors involving the small and large bowel (small intestine, colon, rectum, and anus) in addition to other rare tumors such as sarcomas, desmoid, carcinoid and neuroendocrine tumors. For patients with tumors involving the stomach, liver, pancreas, urinary or reproductive organs, Dr. Maher Abbas will start your work up and then refer you to a trusted expert colleague depending on your tumor type.
If you would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Maher Abbas to learn more about the surgical and treatment options for your abdominal or pelvic tumor/cancer condition, click here.