Story by: Norton Healthcare on July 24, 2023
Gastrointestinal (GI) cancer can develop anywhere along the digestive tract, which runs about 25 feet through the body from the mouth to the anus. Many GI cancers are easily treated if found early, which is why regular testing is important.
The types of GI cancer are different, based on where the cancer begins. Sometimes, colon and rectal cancers are known collectively as “colorectal cancer,” and the terms are used interchangeably. However, even though these cancers all appear in the gastrointestinal tract, they are different in many ways.
The signs of GI cancers vary, but blood in the stool or bleeding is a warning sign for all of these cancers. Any bleeding from the area needs to be investigated to determine the source.
At Norton Cancer Institute, patients with gastrointestinal cancers see providers from multiple specialties in a single day, including medical oncology, radiation oncology and surgery. Multiple viewpoints and areas of expertise improve care for every patient.
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“Bleeding can come from hemorrhoids, fissures or other tears in the skin near the anus,” said Michael F. Driscoll, M.D., gastrointestinal medical oncologist at Norton Cancer Institute. “If these symptoms resolve on their own, we don’t worry. But ongoing or worsening symptoms mean further investigation is needed.”
Each type of GI cancer has its own risk factors, and some you can control. Risks may include:
Talk to your doctor if you have new or worsening symptoms, or if you have a family history of any gastrointestinal cancers.
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