"A friend was recently talking about finding her mom a specialist for “complex GI cancer.” What makes a gastrointestinal cancer complex?"
No cancer is routine and gastrointestinal (GI) cancers are complex diseases that vary greatly from person to person. Yes, there are variations in location and stage, but also in the way the cancer behaves in each person’s body can be different. That’s why patients with GI cancer need individualized treatment plans and a team-approach to care that include a full range of highly-qualified experts.
A Team Approach to Complex GI Cancer Treatment
Gastrointestinal (GI) cancers can occur anywhere in the digestive tract, including the esophagus, stomach, gallbladder, liver, pancreas, small intestine, large intestine (colon), rectum and anus. Sarah Cannon HCA Midwest Health approaches GI cancers with a dedicated, multi-specialty team of physicians who collaborate on patient cases to assure the best care plan for the patient’s needs and the quickest access to treatment possible.
The team includes:
- Medical oncologists—specialists in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and serves as the primary care provider for patients.
- Surgical oncologists—perform a high volume of surgical cancer treatments, including robotic-assisted surgery for greater precision and access of hard-to-reach areas.
- Radiation oncologists and radiologist surgeons—specialize in the treatments of cancer using the most advanced radiation therapies (including image-guided surgeries and high-dose, precisely-delivered external radiation treatments).
- Interventional radiologists—specialized in cutting-edge internal radiation therapies including chemo-embolization and radiofrequency ablation (RFA).
- Gastroenterologists—doctors who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of GI issues, including performing the endoscopic ultrasounds used to help diagnose complex gastrointestinal cancer.
- Hepatologists—physicians who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases involving the liver, gallbladder, pancreas and/or biliary system.
- Pathologists—doctors who specialize in the study of body tissue and fluids, involved in the diagnosis and staging of cancers.
- Nurse navigators—nurses that guide and support patients and families throughout their cancer journey, from discovery through recovery.
- Genetic counselors—medical professionals who provide genetic testing and suggest appropriate interventions tailored to test results.
Open Communication & Patient Case Conferences
Patients can be referred to a Cancer Case Conference by their medical oncologist or any other specialist involved in their care. Case Conferences bring together the Complex GI Oncology team with specialists from the Liver and Pancreas Institute (LPI) at Research Medical Center to confer on a patient’s treatment options and care—approaching the patient’s health from every angle.
This open communication ensures a holistic approach to care and timely access to recommended treatment.
Genetic Counseling & Risk Assessment
Since some GI cancers run in families, the Complex GI Cancer team is also involved in risk assessment and prevention.
Genetic counseling programs like the one offered at the Sarah Cannon HCA Midwest Health High Risk GI Cancer Clinic provide patients and their doctors the information they need to make informed decisions. The clinic doesn’t just assess patient risk, it also provides recommendations for preventive steps and treatments. Some of which would bring them to the Complex GI Cancer team.
Supporting Patients From Discovery to Recovery
If you or a loved one are facing a gastrointestinal cancer diagnosis, seek out a comprehensive, team-based approach to treatment that puts the patient first and provides access to the full-range of specialty and advanced therapies. Sarah Cannon HCA Midwest Health allows patients to access national clinic research trials and cutting-edge therapies without leaving their local communities.
Our complex GI cancer program maintains the highest standards in the region, with personalized, compassionate care for patients on their journey from discovery to recovery.
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