The upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract includes the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (first part of the small intestine). Cancers in these regions can be treated with a full array of minimally invasive surgery, open, and robotic-assisted surgery procedures, depending on the location, tumor type, and appropriate therapy. Advanced GI endoscopy services at Intermountain Cancer Centers assist in the detection and treatment of these tumors.

GI cancers treated at Intermountain include adenocarcinomas, which is cancer that forms in the glandular cells of mucus-secreting glands throughout the body and are the most common types of esophageal, stomach, and duodenal cancers. Other GI cancers include: ampullary tumors, gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs), carcinoid tumors, and other rare and more complicated tumors such as abdominal and retroperitoneal sarcomas.

Treatments and Procedures

Surgeries to treat GI cancers include esophagectomy, which removes all of the tumor, part of the esophagus, tissue around the tumor, and lymph nodes where cancer cells may have spread. Subtotal gastrectomy (removal of part of the stomach) or total gastrectomy (removal of the entire stomach) with removal of nearby lymph nodes is often the main treatment for stomach cancers. Total or partial duodenectomy is used to excise the duodenum for these types of cancers. Early stage cancers can sometimes be removed with minimally invasive, endoscopic resection.

The advantages of minimally invasive surgery—which involves the use of cannulas (narrow tube-like instruments), laparoscopes (tiny telescopes), and small incisions—include less postoperative pain, shorter hospital stays, and quicker returns to normal activity. Intermountain also offers programs for early patient mobilization to further enhance outcomes, preserve GI function, and improve post-operative recovery.