What Are Gastrointestinal (GI) Cancers?
Cancer develops when abnormal cells grow out of control. These growths can occur along any part of your digestive tract, including the:
- Liver and bile ducts
- Small Intestine
GI Cancer Care Through the Cancer Network: Why Choose Us?
Mercy Health, University of Michigan Health-West and University of Michigan Health Rogel Cancer Center work together to deliver a seamless care experience. We are in regular communication through meetings called tumor boards. These discussions enable us to tailor care recommendations, making it easier to adjust therapies to your changing needs.
The symptoms you experience depend on which organ the cancer is affecting. Common gastrointestinal cancer symptoms include:
- Burning sensation in your chest
- Changes in bowel habits, including frequent diarrhea
- Difficulty swallowing
- Frequent cramps, gas and bloating
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Unexpected weight loss
We perform a thorough assessment that often includes multiple tests. Our careful approach helps you receive an accurate diagnosis. Your care may include:
- Endoscopy: We slide a thin tube with a camera at the tip down your throat. This allows us to assess the upper part of the digestive tract.
- Colonoscopy: This procedure also uses a thin tube with a camera at the tip. This allows us to examine the lower part of the digestive tract through the anus.
- Biopsy: Doctors take a tissue sample and examine it under a microscope. This test detects cancerous cells.
- Imaging: We may use a CT scan, MRI or positron emission tomography (PET) scan to examine your organs. If cancer is present, these tests can pinpoint the precise location of it and help us plan therapies.
- Lab tests: We may take a sample of your blood to check for kidney or liver issues.
At some of our locations, GI cancer care starts with assessments from multiple experts in a single visit. Specialists in medical, radiation and surgical oncology take time getting to know you. We explain your diagnosis, provide personalized care recommendations and plan the next steps of treatment.
Your care may include:
- Surgery: Highly skilled experts remove cancer using techniques that are gentler on your body, such as minimally invasive surgery. We use sophisticated instruments and real-time imaging to guide procedures using small incisions so you can recover quickly.
- Chemotherapy and other medical oncology: You receive anticancer drugs and other substances that slow cancer cell growth. We stay current on GI cancer research, so you can feel confident you are receiving the best options for your needs.
- Radiation therapy: This option uses powerful energy to destroy cancer cells’ ability to multiply. You have access to advanced technologies that deliver focused treatments. We meticulously plan your treatment so you get the most out of each session.
Cancer Network services are available at several locations across West Michigan. Each facility represents the full strength, compassion and expertise we have to offer. Our integrated approach makes it easier to receive care where you’re most comfortable — near home and loved ones.