What are Gastrointestinal (GI) Cancers?
GI cancer is a term used for the group of cancers that affect the gastrointestinal tract and other organs within the digestive system. The most common sites of GI cancer start in the colon (large intestine), rectum, esophagus, pancreas, stomach, and liver. Other common locations include the gallbladder, biliary system, and small intestine.
Recently Diagnosed with a Type of GI Cancer?
A gastrointestinal cancer diagnosis can leave you full of questions and feeling overwhelmed. Our cancer care team at Compass Oncology has put together this information to help prepare you for your first appointment with the medical oncologist. We hope it will also help ease your mind about what you can expect.
Less Common Types of GI Cancers
Gallbladder & Biliary Tract Cancer
Gallbladder cancer occurs when malignant cancer cells form in the tissues of the gallbladder. The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ located next to the liver. Its role is to store bile, a fluid that aids with digestion and fat absorption in the small intestine. Biliary tract cancer (also known as cholangiocarcinoma) is cancer that occurs in the bile ducts (tubes that transport bile from the liver). Biliary tract cancer can form anywhere along the bile ducts.
Small Intestine Cancer
Cancer of the small intestine also called small bowel cancer, occurs in the small intestine—a long tube that carries digested food between the stomach and the large intestine (colon). Because the small intestine is made up of many different types of cells, different types of cancer can start there. There are four major types of small intestine cancers, which include adenocarcinomas, carcinoid tumors, lymphomas, and sarcomas. Small intestine cancer often begins with non-cancerous polyps, which over time, can change into cancer.
Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors (GIST)
GISTs start in special cells, called interstitial cells of Cajal (ICCs), located in the wall of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, also known as the digestive tract. ICC cells are part of the autonomic nervous system--the part of the nervous system that regulates body processes such as digesting food. The most common sites for GISTs are the stomach and small intestine.
Anal cancer starts in the anal canal--a short tube at the end of your rectum through which stool leaves your body. The inner lining of the anal canal is the mucosa. Most anal cancers start from cells in the mucosa. Anal cancers that start from cells in the glands located under the mucosa are called adenocarcinomas. Many types of tumors can develop in the anus, including non-cancerous ones.
Frequently Asked Questions About GI CancersLearn More
Our Gastrointestinal cancer specialists have compiled some frequently asked questions to get you through some of your first questions.
Gastrointestinal Cancer Clinical Trials and ResearchLearn More
Clinical research trials are offered for GI cancer patients in the Portland, OR, and Vancouver, WA areas. Our partnership with US Oncology allows patients to participate in clinical research trials that have led to new cancer therapies being approved by the FDA. We're currently working on finding new treatment options for colorectal cancer, stomach cancer, liver cancer, pancreatic cancer, and other GI cancers.
Genetics and GI CancersLearn More
Genetic testing is available at Compass Oncology throughout the Portland-Vancouver area to help patients and their families determine if there is a hereditary link to GI cancer. This helps determine the best cancer treatment options for the patient and helps family members make educated decisions for their own health.
Patient ResourcesLearn More
From support groups and genetic counseling to financial counseling with our Patient Benefit Representatives, our cancer specialists are here for you every step of the way.
Resources for GI Cancer SurvivorsLearn More
With a gastrointestinal cancer diagnosis comes the need for support. There are many support groups and organizations that will help you in every step of your journey. Discover local and national support group gatherings, reading materials, and more.