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Gastrointestinal Cancers

The gastrointestinal (GI) tract refers to all the organs responsible for the ingestion of food (eating), digestion, absorption, and defecation.  GI organs include the esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, biliary tree, small bowel (or intestine), colon, and anus.  Cancers can arise in any of these organs.

The pancreas is a gland found behind the stomach.  It is about six inches long and has three main parts: The widest part is called the head; the middle of the gland is the body; the narrow end is called the tail.  The pancreas makes hormones, such as insulin.  It also makes proteins, called enzymes, that help to digest food.  Enzymes are made in the small ducts of the pancreas.  The small ducts connect to the main duct that extends from the tail to head of the pancreas.

Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and women. Of those, 40,340 will be diagnosed with rectal cancer. About 7,060 people will learn they have anal cancer. Patients with these types of cancer often benefit from radiation therapy as part of treatment. Some cancers involving the bowel run within families (hereditary colorectal cancers). It is important to discuss your diagnosis with family members so they can decide with their doctors whether they need to be screened for colorectal cancers. This is especially important if you were diagnosed with a colorectal cancer at a young age or if there are several other types of cancers that run in your family

Liver cancers can occur within the liver itself  (primary liver cancers) or spread to the liver from other disease sites (liver metastases).  Primary liver cancers are the third most common GI cancer with nearly 30,000 new cases each year.  Liver metastases are also common and may occur in up to 30-50% of adult tumors that originate from outside the liver.  Many treatment options are available for all liver cancers, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and other liver-directed therapies.

Types of Gastrointestinal Cancers We Treat

  • Esophageal Cancer
  • Stomach Cancer
  • Pancreatic Cancer
  • Liver Cancer
  • Biliary Tree Cancer
  • Small Bowel (or intestine) Cancer
  • Colon Cancer
  • Rectal Cancer
  • Anal Cancer

Our Approach

Depending on your stage and particular situation, GI cancers can be treated with radiation, surgery, or chemotherapy, either alone or in combination with each other.

The physicians at the University of Washington Department of Radiation Oncology work very closely with your surgeon and medical oncologist to determine which combination of treatment is best for you. Because of our team’s deep collaboration with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, you can be assured that your treatment plan will be highly individualized and based on latest the advances in cancer research.

Please contact us if you are interested in a consultation to discuss the options that best fit you.

I believe in individualized care and making decisions with my patients as a partnership.

- Edward Kim, MD

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Additional information about
gastrointestinal cancers

Radiation Oncologists who specialize in
gastrointestinal cancers

Treatment Options

Open Clinical Trials

Treatment Facilities

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center – Proton Therapy

1570 N. 115th Street
Seattle, WA 98133

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Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center – South Lake Union

1354 Aloha Street
Seattle, WA 98109

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UW Medical Center – Montlake – Radiation Oncology Center

1959 NE Pacific Street
Seattle, WA 98195

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UW Medicine Northwest Hospital & Medical Center — Fred Hutchison Cancer Center Radiation Oncology Services

1570 N 115th Street
Seattle, WA 98133

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VA of Puget Sound Health Care System (Veteran’s Administration)

1660 S Columbian Way
Seattle, WA 98108

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