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Gastrointestinal Cancer

Gastrointestinal Cancer

About Gastrointestinal Cancer

Gastrointestinal cancers affect your esophagus, stomach, intestines, rectum, and organs such as the liver and pancreas. If you develop symptoms of these diseases, Arizona Center for Cancer Care’s highly skilled oncologists can help. The practice has offices spread across Avondale, Chandler, Gilbert, Glendale, Mesa, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Surprise, Anthem, Peoria, Fountain Hills, Wickenburg, Apache Junction, Sun City, Sun City West, Goodyear, and Tempe, Arizona. You can benefit from an accurate diagnosis of gastrointestinal cancer and innovative treatments by calling your nearest office or booking an in-person or telemedicine appointment online.

Gastrointestinal Cancer Q & A

What is gastrointestinal cancer?

Gastrointestinal cancer can affect any part of your digestive system, from your esophagus to your anus. Your stomach, small and large intestines, rectum, and organs like your liver, pancreas, and gallbladder all play a significant role in food digestion and waste elimination.

Cancer develops when cells in these organs and tissues grow at an accelerated rate. The genetic mutations make cancer cells multiply quickly and remove their lifespan restriction. Instead of dying like normal cells, the fast-growing cancer cells form masses or lumps, leading to:

  • Esophageal cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Anal cancer

As you age, your risk of developing gastrointestinal cancer increases. Other risk factors include a family history of the disease, smoking, excess alcohol consumption, and having conditions like hepatitis or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

What symptoms does gastrointestinal cancer cause?

Gastrointestinal cancer symptoms vary depending on the kind of cancer you have. For example, esophageal cancer can cause dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), while colorectal cancer can cause rectal bleeding. Some common symptoms of several gastrointestinal cancers include:

  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Appetite changes
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Changes in bowel function

Many gastrointestinal cancers don’t cause symptoms until the tumor reaches a more advanced stage.

How is gastrointestinal cancer diagnosed?

If you have the symptoms described above, Arizona Center for Cancer Care uses advanced diagnostics to confirm or exclude different gastrointestinal cancers.

They start with a review of your medical and family history and a physical exam. You might need diagnostic imaging procedures like an ultrasound, CT, or positron emission tomography (PET) scan to identify abnormalities like tumors in your gastrointestinal tract.

Colorectal cancer diagnosis involves having a colonoscopy. That minimally invasive procedure uses a specialized endoscope (a light and camera on the end of a flexible tube) that your provider inserts into your rectum and colon.

The colonoscope passes along the bowel, sending real-time images to a screen for your doctor to view. If they find any abnormalities or tumors anywhere, your doctor might extract a tissue sample (biopsy) for testing in the lab.

How is gastrointestinal cancer treated?

Arizona Center for Cancer Care provides comprehensive treatment for gastrointestinal cancers that might include:

  • Tumor removal surgery
  • Surgery to remove a section of bowel
  • Ablation or embolization
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Targeted therapy

Your provider can combine these treatments to offer you the best outcomes. For example, chemotherapy or radiation therapy before surgery can shrink a large tumor. These treatments, after surgery, kill any remaining cancer cells. Patients might also be able to participate in clinical trials for new or improved gastrointestinal cancer treatments.

To get high-quality care for gastrointestinal cancer, call your nearest Arizona Center for Cancer Care office or book an appointment online today.