Gastrointestinal (GI) cancers are a group of cancers that affect the organs of your digestive system. At Dignity Health North State hospitals, we offer complete cancer care services for a wide range of gastrointestinal cancers, including:
If you would like to learn more about diagnosing and treating gastrointestinal cancers in Northern California, Find a Doctor at Dignity Health North State.
Gastrointestinal Cancer Symptoms
You may not have noticeable symptoms during the early stages of most GI cancers. As a result, GI cancers that cause symptoms are often advanced at the time of diagnosis.
Symptoms of GI cancers may include:
- Digestive problems
- Weakness or tiredness
- Abdominal pain or cramping
- Bloody or very dark stool
- Changes in bowel habits, such as changes in consistency, diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool
- Difficulty swallowing
- Loss of appetite or weight loss
- Jaundice, a yellowing of the skin and eyes
- Vomiting and nausea
- Abdominal swelling
Gastrointestinal Cancer Causes
While the cause of GI cancers is not fully understood by health experts, lifestyle factors may play a role in your risk. Risk factors for GI cancers include not exercising, smoking, obesity, heavy alcohol use, and poor diet. Your personal and family history of cancer will also be taken into account when assessing your risk.
Gastrointestinal Cancer Treatment at Dignity Health North State
Your treatment options depend on the specific type and stage of GI cancer you have. Your doctor at Dignity Health North State may also recommend the following treatment options:
- Surgery to remove cancer cells and a small amount of healthy tissue around them
- Targeted therapy to destroy cancer by using markers to identify cancer cells
- Chemotherapy to stop cancer cells from growing or kill them
- Radiation therapy to shrink tumors and kill cancer cells
Screening tests can diagnose rectal and colon cancer (colorectal cancers) in early, highly treatable stages — before symptoms develop. There are many screening tools for colorectal cancers, including colonoscopy. Talk with your doctor about your risks and screening options to determine when you should start screening.
There are no screening tests for the majority of GI cancers. As some GI cancer risk factors involve your overall health and wellness, prevention starts with a healthy lifestyle. You can help reduce your risk of GI cancer with a balanced diet, regular physical activity, not smoking, and limiting alcohol consumption. Your Dignity Health North State doctor can help create a prevention plan that’s effective for your unique needs.