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What is gastrointestinal cancer?

Gastrointestinal cancer, or GI cancer, concerns cancers that affect the digestive system. This can include cancers of the esophagus, gallbladder, liver, pancreas, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, colon, rectum, and anus.

Gastrointestinal cancer risk factors and symptoms

Because there are several types of GI cancers, risk factors and symptoms may vary. Some of the symptoms people with GI cancer experience include:

  • Poor appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Heartburn
  • Difficulty swallowing or feeling of food getting "stuck"
  • Diarrhea, constipation, or a change in bowel habits for more than a few days
  • Unusual stool (thin or slimy)
  • Feeling like your bowel won’t completely empty
  • Blood in stool
  • Black colored stools
  • Fatigue
  • Persistent belly pain
  • Unexplained weight loss


Gastrointestinal cancer screening and diagnosis

Your doctor may detect the presence of a GI cancer by ordering:


Gastrointestinal cancer treatment & surgery

Treatment of gastrointestinal cancer is based on where the cancer is located, its size, and the stage of its development. With consideration of these factors and your overall health, your doctor may suggest:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy


The timing and sequence of these treatments will be customized to your specific situation. 

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U.S. News & World Report

Home of the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of only three NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in Texas, U.S. News & World Report has accredited Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center as one of the best hospitals for several specialties, including previous accreditation for compassionate patient-centered cancer care.