5 Most Common Types of Gastrointestinal Cancers

Posted By Author on August 5, 2021

person with gastrointestinal pains like ibs, diarrhea, Crohn's disease, acid reflux etc.Unexplained symptoms or discomfort often send patients to the doctor in search of relief. But at Charleston GI, we believe that routine screening tests are an important part of preventing serious, potentially life-threatening conditions. These routine screening can protect against the most common types of gastrointestinal cancers.

Our trusted gastroenterologists in Charleston have detailed the most common types of GI cancers, including the screenings used to diagnose them and the symptoms to watch for.

5 Common Types of Gastrointestinal Cancers:

Esophageal Cancer

The esophagus is a long, hollow tube that connects the mouth and throat to the stomach. It is integral for eating and drinking, with its muscular wall contracting to transport food to the stomach. GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, is a risk factor that often increases a patient’s chance of developing esophageal cancer.

Cancer of the esophagus can cause the following:

  • Indigestion
  • Heartburn
  • Vomiting
  • Choking and Increased difficulty swallowing
  • Weight loss
  • Coughing or voice hoarseness

Gastric Cancer (Stomach Cancer)

An important part of the digestive system, the stomach can be found in the upper abdomen between the esophagus and small intestine. The enzymes and acids produced there help to digest food.

If stomach cancer is suspected, your Charleston GI physician is prepared to aid you from common types of gastrointestinal cancers.

Our GI specialist will likely perform an endoscopy.  An endoscopy is a procedure that involves a tube with a light and camera attached. The tube is inserted through the mouth down into the esophagus, then stomach.


Gastric cancer symptoms may vary, depending on the stage or severity.

  • Heartburn or indigestion
  • Minor to major discomfort in the abdomen, usually above the navel
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Nausea with no known cause
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling full after eating only a small amount
  • Vomiting, with or without blood
  • Low red blood cell count (anemia)
  • Blood in the stool

Colorectal Cancer

Here in the United States, colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and in women. Because colorectal cancer, especially in its earlier stages, does not always cause symptoms, regular screening tests are crucial.

Colorectal cancer is highly treatable if caught early, so schedule your colonoscopy today! Getting screened for colorectal cancer could save your life.

As an alternative to traditional colorectal cancer screenings, virtual colonoscopies are performed using a CT colonography scan instead of a scope. Other screening options are available as well, including stool DNA tests and fecal immunochemical tests (FIT). These screening alternatives utilize stool samples to provide test results and are used to help diagnose cancer at earlier stages, improving survival rates. Keep in mind, however, that only colonoscopies prevent colon cancer through the removal of polyps.

Note: Patients with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or a family history of colorectal cancer (colon cancer) are at a higher risk.


  • A change in bowel habits
  • Blood in or on your stool
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Feeling that the bowel does not empty completely
  • Persistent abdominal pain, aches, or cramps
  • Unexplained weight loss

Pancreatic Cancer

The pancreas produces fluids that aid in digestion in the small intestine, as well as hormones like insulin. Chronic pancreatitis, a long-term inflammation of the pancreas, is considered a risk factor for pancreatic cancer.


  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Jaundice (Yellowing of skin or eyes)
  • Issues controlling blood sugar
  • Depression

Liver Cancer

One of the largest organs in the body, the liver has many important functions. It plays an important role in clearing toxins from the blood, producing blood proteins, metabolizing drugs and secreting the bile that aids digestion.

Those with hepatitis B and/or C have a higher risk of developing liver cancer and should remain particularly vigilant.


  • Hard lump on the right side just below the rib cage
  • Discomfort in the upper abdomen on the right side
  • Pain around the right shoulder blade
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes).
  • Unusual tiredness
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite

Schedule Your Gastroenterology Screenings and Treatments!

If you are experiencing symptoms that may be linked to a digestive disease or common types of gastrointestinal cancers, contact your gastroenterologist in Charleston today. The earlier you are screened, the better treatment options are available.

At Charleston GI, we offer 4 convenient locations in Summerville, Carnes Crossroads, Mount Pleasant and West Ashley.

Visit us or schedule an appointment with our GI specialist at one of our four conveniently-located offices today!

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