Gastrointestinal (GI) Cancers

What are Gastrointestinal (GI) Cancers?

GI cancer is a term used for the group of cancers that affect the gastrointestinal tract and other organs within the digestive system. The most common sites of GI cancer start in the colon (large intestine), rectum, esophagus, pancreas, stomach, and liver. Other common locations include the gallbladder, biliary system, and small intestine.

Recently Diagnosed with a Type of GI Cancer?

A gastrointestinal cancer diagnosis can leave you full of questions and feeling overwhelmed. Our cancer care team at Compass Oncology has put together this information to help prepare you for your first appointment with the medical oncologist. We hope it will also help ease your mind about what you can expect.


GI Cancer Cancer Specialists

Our gastrointestinal cancer specialists offer personalized care for GI cancer patients. We offer a team of experts including medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, palliative care, and more at multiple locations. The care team at Compass Oncology is experienced in gastrointestinal cancer care and is here to help guide you through your cancer care journey.

Common Types of Gastrointestinal Cancers

Click to learn more about diagnosis, staging, and treatment options for these common types of GI cancers.

common_types_of_gi_cancers_compass_oncologyColorectal Cancer

Esophageal Cancer

Pancreatic Cancer

Stomach Cancer

Liver Cancer

Less Common Types of GI Cancers

Gallbladder & Biliary Tract Cancer

Gallbladder cancer occurs when malignant cancer cells form in the tissues of the gallbladder. The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ located next to the liver. Its role is to store bile, a fluid that aids with digestion and fat absorption in the small intestine. Biliary tract cancer (also known as cholangiocarcinoma) is cancer that occurs in the bile ducts (tubes that transport bile from the liver). Biliary tract cancer can form anywhere along the bile ducts.

Small Intestine Cancer

Cancer of the small intestine also called small bowel cancer, occurs in the small intestine—a long tube that carries digested food between the stomach and the large intestine (colon). Because the small intestine is made up of many different types of cells, different types of cancer can start there. There are four major types of small intestine cancers, which include adenocarcinomas, carcinoid tumors, lymphomas, and sarcomas. Small intestine cancer often begins with non-cancerous polyps, which over time, can change into cancer.

Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors (GIST)

GISTs start in special cells, called interstitial cells of Cajal (ICCs), located in the wall of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, also known as the digestive tract. ICC cells are part of the autonomic nervous system--the part of the nervous system that regulates body processes such as digesting food. The most common sites for GISTs are the stomach and small intestine.

Anal Cancer

Anal cancer starts in the anal canal--a short tube at the end of your rectum through which stool leaves your body. The inner lining of the anal canal is the mucosa. Most anal cancers start from cells in the mucosa. Anal cancers that start from cells in the glands located under the mucosa are called adenocarcinomas. Many types of tumors can develop in the anus, including non-cancerous ones.

Frequently Asked Questions About GI Cancers


Our gastrointestinal cancer specialists have compiled some frequently asked questions to get you through some of your first questions.

Gastrointestinal Cancer Clinical Trials and Research


Clinical research trials are offered for GI cancer patients in the Portland, OR, and Vancouver, WA areas. This allows patients to participate in clinical research trials that have led to new cancer therapies being approved by the FDA. We're currently working on finding new treatment options for colorectal cancer, stomach cancer, liver cancer, pancreatic cancer, and other GI cancers.

Genetics and GI Cancers


Genetic testing is available at Compass Oncology throughout the Portland-Vancouver area to help patients and their families determine if there is a hereditary link to GI cancer. This helps determine the best cancer treatment options for the patient and helps family members make educated decisions for their own health.

Patient Resources

cancer patient resources

From support groups and genetic counseling to financial counseling with our Patient Benefit Representatives, our cancer specialists are here for you every step of the way.

Resources for GI Cancer Survivors


With a gastrointestinal cancer diagnosis comes the need for support. There are many support groups and organizations that will help you in every step of your journey. Discover local and national support group gatherings, reading materials, and more.

Find a Medical Oncologist in Portland-Vancouver

After Gastrointestinal Cancer Treatment

Following treatment for GI cancer, your doctor will continue to monitor you. It is critical that you attend every follow-up appointment and bring up any questions and concerns with your oncologist. They will check you over for any side effects of treatment and ensure that you receive all necessary follow-up treatments. You may also be set up with a dietician so that you can address any new dietary concerns that arise with your condition,

Learn More About Compass' Cancer Survivorship Program