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Stomach and esophageal cancer care

Comprehensive prevention, detection and treatment for people with stomach, esophagus, upper gastrointestinal and small bowel cancer

Allina Health offers a complete range of care aimed at preventing, detecting and treating cancers of the stomach, esophagus, upper GI tract and small bowel.

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What it is

Cancer of the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract includes stomach, esophagus and small bowel cancers. These cancers usually develop slowly and may go undetected for many years. Changes often happen first in the inner lining of your stomach and esophagus. Most of these are adenocarcinomas. Cancer can develop in other places within the stomach and esophagus with different symptoms.

Symptoms of stomach cancer include:

  • anemia
  • bloody or tarry stools    
  • chronic diarrhea or constipation
  • discomfort in your upper abdomen
  • feeling full or bloated after a small meal
  • indigestion and heartburn
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea and vomiting
  • unintended weight loss

Signs of esophageal cancer include:

  • chronic cough
  • difficult or painful swallowing (dysphagia)
  • high levels of calcium in the blood
  • hoarseness
  • pain, pressure or burning in the throat or chest
  • persistent hiccups

Good for preventing

Screening and prevention:

  • Avoid smoking and use of smokeless tobacco.
  • Consult with your doctor to treat chronic heartburn/GERD, or if you have a family history of esophageal or stomach cancer.
  • Drink in moderation
  • Lose weight and eat a balanced diet rich in vegetables and fruits.
  • Wash your hands before eating or after using the bathroom to avoid H pylori, the bacteria that causes most ulcers.

Good for detecting

Diagnosis

If your doctor suspects you may have stomach cancer you likely will be referred for one or more of these tests:

  • barium swallow
  • biopsy
  • blood work
  • bronchoscopy
  • chest X-ray
  • CT scan of the chest and abdomen
  • EGD (esophagogastroduodenoscopy) with biopsy
  • endoscopic ultrasound
  • MRI
  • other diagnostic tests
  • PET scan

If your doctor suspects you may have esophageal cancer, you may be referred for one or more of these tests:

  • bronchoscopy
  • CT scan
  • endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) or enso sonography
  • esophagoscopy
  • laryngoscopy
  • MRI
  • PET
  • thoracoscopy
  • video endoscopy
  • X-ray

Treatment

Your cancer care team will work with you to develop your cancer treatment plan. The plan is unique to your medical diagnosis, pathology and preferences.  Your plan could include any of these cancer treatment options.

  • chemotherapy
  • radiation therapy
  • surgery

Together, you and your health care team will create an individualized plan based on your health, your cancer stage and your needs.

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Source: Allina Health
Reviewed by: Melissa Walls

First published: 5/28/2019
Last reviewed: 5/28/2019