Metastatic cancer deposits in the abdomen can act like speed bumps on a road, slowing down the traffic of the gut, that’s why there is a greater tendency towards constipation. As these cancer deposits grow they can make things worse and if they are big enough can cause a roadblock, a bowel obstruction. The gut traffic will try to push through the roadblock but cannot do so, this can be painful, and will lead to reversal of the traffic flow, vomiting.
One of our treatments involves loosening up the roadblock with corticosteroids, they sometimes can decrease the swelling and inflammation surrounding the cancer deposits.
We have medications which we use to try to push harder through the roadblock – pro-kinetics which increase gut traffic.
The gut’s job is to digest food, and it produces around 2-3 L of digestive juices every day. We have anti-secretory medications which can reduce this production, helping symptoms by decreasing the volume of gut traffic.
There is a physical treatment which can be considered but which is more uncomfortable and invasive – the nasogastric tube. A tube inserted through the nose, goes down the throat and into the stomach, providing an alternative route for the vomit to leave the stomach – A detour.
Sometimes the roadblock/obstruction can be overcome, but a lot depends on the driving conditions as well, the overall health of the countryside – the person’s general health status.
If only there was a traffic forecasting system or GPS system that could help us to tell how the journey ahead will be. This does not yet exist with the current state of medicine and technology.
Despite the destination being the same, each individual trip may be completely different, and we can still modify try to modify the quality of the experience.
Please drive carefully if you are journeying on the roads during the holiday season.