Gastrointestinal cancer can affect any part of your digestive system, from the esophagus to the rectum, as well as organs like your liver. David Kornguth, MD, of Golden Gate Cancer Center in the SoMa (South of Market) neighborhood of San Francisco, California, specializes in using advanced radiation therapy technologies like intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) and image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT) to optimize the results of gastrointestinal cancer treatment while minimizing harm to healthy tissues. Call the Mission District office today to find out more, or fill in the online form to schedule a consultation.
Gastrointestinal cancer is an umbrella term that includes all of the cancers that can develop in your digestive tract.
Your gastrointestinal (GI) tract starts at your mouth, where you chew food in preparation for digestion. The food then passes down your esophagus and into your stomach. The acids in your stomach break down the food, which then goes through your small intestine, large intestine (colon), and finally your rectum, ready to pass out of your body.
Along the way, organs like your liver, pancreas, and gallbladder extract nutrients and energy and break them down. Gastrointestinal cancer could affect any organ involved in digestion.
The most common types of gastrointestinal cancer include:
Squamous cell carcinoma typically affects the upper or middle part of your esophagus. Adenocarcinoma affects the lower part of your esophagus.
Stomach cancer can affect any part of your stomach. It tends to spread (metastasize) easily to your lymph nodes and organs like the small intestines, liver, pancreas, and colon.
Currently, most liver cancers affecting people in the United States are secondary cancers that metastasize to your liver from other parts of your body, including the breast, colon, pancreas, and lung. Cases of primary liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma) are on the increase in the United States, and liver cancer is among the sixth-most common causes of cancer-related death in the US.
Early-stage pancreatic cancer doesn't usually cause any symptoms, so it's known as a “silent” disease. Symptoms often don't emerge until the cancer is at a more advanced stage, when it can be difficult to treat.
Various treatments are available for gastrointestinal cancer.
Ablation therapy uses radiofrequency waves, an injection of alcohol, or proton beam radiation to destroy the tumor. Chemotherapy and chemoembolization use drugs that kill growing cells, stopping the tumor from expanding or spreading, and sometimes shrinking it.
Surgery is one possible treatment. This approach usually works best if the cancer hasn't metastasized. Combinations of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy can also be beneficial in many cases.
Dr. Kornguth specializes in using advanced forms of radiation therapy, including intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT), image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT), and stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT). The practice has the state-of-the-art Halcyon™ treatment system from Varian.
The choice of treatment depends on factors like the type of cancer you have, how far it has advanced, and your age and general health. Dr. Kornguth goes through all of the options with you before developing a treatment plan.
Dr. Kornguth also takes an integrative approach to treatment, using evidence-based medicine but being open to alternative and complementary approaches when they can be helpful. He aims to educate and guide his patients so they can make their own choices about the treatments that are best for them.
Dr. Kornguth also helps you understand the importance of a healthy diet and lifestyle in helping you to overcome your gastrointestinal cancer.
Call Golden Gate Cancer Center today to find out more or book an appointment online.