Gastroenterology is a medical specialty that focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of digestive diseases and cancers affecting the gastrointestinal system. Possible affected areas include the oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, liver, gallbladder and pancreas.
Digestive diseases are extremely common, with 50 per cent of the population presenting some symptoms related to the digestive system. Moreover, digestive cancers such as colon cancer, stomach cancer and liver cancer are still commonly seen in Singapore. These cancers, if discovered early by regular screenings, are amenable to treatment and cure.
Great advances in gastrointestinal endoscopy have enabled early and accurate diagnosis of gastrointestinal diseases. Treatment can be performed through the endoscopy, and early gastric or colonic cancer can now be removed endoscopically without undergoing major surgery.
Several breakthroughs have also been made in the medical treatment of many chronic liver diseases with the availability of new and better drugs. Patients with chronic hepatitis B or C can now be treated or cured, reducing the number of people dying from liver cirrhosis and failure.