Esophageal And Stomach Cancers (Upper GI)

According to the American Cancer Society, almost 17,000 new cases of esophageal cancer and 25,000 new cases of stomach cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States. This category of upper gastrointestinal cancers, or “Upper GI”, can affect any age or gender, but some can be more vulnerable due to family history with the condition, poor diet, and use of substances such as alcohol or tobacco. For those who have a history with Barrett’s esophagus, a condition where there is damage to the lower portion of the esophageal tube, endoscopic exams and biopsies may be necessary for screening.

Screening for these types of cancers is typically not recommended, since many of the early warning signs and symptoms are shared with very common and harmless gastrointestinal issues. However, if you believe that you are at risk, or notice any symptoms that may be persistent or out of the ordinary, an appointment with a doctor will allow you to get a proper diagnosis of the cause. If developing esophageal or stomach cancer is caught early, it can possibly improve the effectiveness of treatment.

For more helpful information on upper GI cancer, signs and symptoms, treatment options, and more, just click on the helpful links below.

Signs & Symptoms Of Upper GI Cancers

Signs Of Esophageal Cancer

Most early signs of developing esophageal cancer originate in the esophagus, and commonly lead to behavioral changes, such as change in diet or loss of appetite. Some of the most common warning signs include:

  • Difficulty Swallowing
  • Chest Pain
  • Sudden Or Unexplained Weight Loss
  • Chronic Coughing
  • Bleeding In The Esophagus

If you notice any of these symptoms, notice any discomfort in or around your esophagus, or notice changes to your eating habits, schedule an appointment with a doctor to examine the symptoms and determine the cause.

Signs of Stomach Cancer

Stomach cancer has many symptoms that are often misinterpreted as common digestive issues, since they are also symptoms of many less serious issues. One of the differentiators between stomach cancer and more common illnesses is that the symptoms are more persistent or even chronic. The most common early signs and symptoms of stomach cancer include:

  • Little Or No Appetite
  • Sudden Or Unexplained Weight Loss
  • Chronic Stomach Pain
  • Blood In Vomit Or Stool
  • Bloating, Diarrhea, & Constipation

If you have any questions about these signs or symptoms, or how to identify when these are actually a sign of stomach cancer, contact Southeast Radiation Oncology Center, and our team will be happy to help you.

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Treatment For Esophageal And Stomach Cancer

The best course of treatment for esophageal and stomach cancers depends on the type and stage of the cancer, as well as the overall health of the patient receiving treatment. The most common treatment methods used to treat these types of cancer are radiation therapy, surgery, and chemotherapy. It is common for a combination of treatment methods to be used to improve the effectiveness of treatment based on the patient’s health and needs.

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To treat both stomach and esophageal cancer, radiation oncologists will use a procedure known as external beam radiation therapy. Using a machine that generates highly concentrated beams of radiation, the oncologist will focus the beam on the cancerous area of the stomach or esophagus to kill cancer cells with minimal damage to surrounding healthy tissue, or an “organ-preservation” focused effect. When the radiation comes into contact with the cancer cells, the damage caused prevents the cells from spreading, and due to cancer cells’ lack of ability to regenerate, they quickly die off. As for the affected healthy tissue, the cells are damaged but can repair themselves over a short recovery period.

The duration and frequency of treatment varies depending on the needs of the patient, and will be determined by the oncologist before treatment begins.

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Possible Side Effects Of Treatment For Upper Gi Cancers

The possible side effects that a patient may experience during treatment for stomach and esophageal cancers will vary depending on the type of cancer and the type of treatment being received. Also, side effects vary on a patient to patient basis, so it’s very difficult to predict what the side effects will manifest during or after treatment. If you have any questions about the side effects that you can expect from treatment, talk to your doctor.

Most side effects can be managed through changes in diet or by taking medication. If you do experience any side effects, make sure you let your doctor or nurse know so they can help you get relief.

Contact Your Juneau, AK Radiation Treatment Center

At Southeast Radiation Oncology Center, we offer professional radiation therapy for patients battling with upper GI cancers and many other forms of cancer. Our experienced doctors and friendly staff are by your side throughout the entire treatment process, giving you the support and care you need to get back to a healthier state, and ensuring that you are always comfortable. Our mission is to provide hope to the patients and families fighting against cancer, so if you need information or treatment, contact us today!

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Upper GI Cancer Resources

Esophageal Cancer Awareness Association


No Stomach for Cancer


Also see Helpful Links

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Download a helpful brochure from

*Content provided by the American Society for Radiation Oncology, , and the American Cancer Society.

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