Gastrointestinal cancer, also known as GI cancer, refers to dangerous cell growth in any of the organs of your digestive tract. At Dignity Health Central California hospitals, we treat all forms of GI cancer with humankindness, including:
Find a Doctor who can offer you personalized care for GI cancer in Central California at one of our nearby locations:
Gastrointestinal Cancer Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of GI cancer depend on the organ it affects and the stage of the cancer. There are often no symptoms of GI cancer in its early stages. Also, unlike some other types of cancer, it’s difficult to feel GI tumors grow. As a result, GI cancers are often diagnosed once they start causing symptoms, which usually means it’s in more advanced stages.
Symptoms may include:
- Digestive problems
- Abdominal pain or cramping
- Nausea and vomiting
- Changes in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, changes in consistency, or narrowing of the stool
- Difficulty swallowing
- Bloody or very dark stools
- Weakness, tiredness, weight loss, or loss of appetite
- Jaundice, a yellowing of the eyes and skin
- Swelling in the abdomen
Causes of Gastrointestinal Cancer
The exact cause of GI cancer is unknown. Although risk factors vary for each type, lifestyle factors often play a role in many types of GI cancer. This includes smoking, not exercising, obesity, heavy alcohol use, and poor diet. In some cases, family history may also be a factor.
Treatment & Prevention of Gastrointestinal Cancer
At Dignity Health Central California, our doctors will create a personalized treatment and prevention strategy based on your specific GI cancer. The most common treatment for GI cancers of all stages is surgery.
The following treatment options may also be recommended by your doctor:
- Radiation therapy to shrink tumors and destroy cancer cells
- Chemotherapy to destroy cancer cells or stop them from growing
- Targeted therapy to destroy cancer by using markers present only on cancer cells
Screening tests can diagnose colon and rectal cancer in early, highly treatable stages. However, there are no screening exams for most GI cancers. Prevention starts with a healthy lifestyle, including regular physical activity, a balanced diet, limited alcohol intake, and not smoking.
Ask your Dignity Health Central California doctor when you should start screening for GI cancers, as well as other tips for maintaining your overall health.
Doctors at Dignity Health Central California provide complete care for all forms of gastrointestinal cancer in Bakersfield, Merced, San Andreas, and Stockton, CA.