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Gastroenterology

Gastroenterology is a medical specialty focusing on diseases of the digestive system. Gastroenterologists are trained in diagnosing and treating a number of diseases, including cancers of the pancreas, liver, esophagus, stomach, colon, rectum and anus.

A host of diagnostic tests may be performed to detect and stage stomach cancers, such as a barium enema, colonoscopy, endoscopy or ultrasound. The type of diagnostic test and treatment patients receive depend on the specifics of each individual’s case. Our Gastroenterology Program uses minimally invasive procedures to treat cancers of the digestive system and to relieve symptoms associated with your specific digestive cancer.

Once a gastric cancer has been diagnosed, some of the procedures that may be performed by our gastroenterologists include:

Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP): This procedure is used to view the bile ducts in the pancreas. Your doctor may use ERCP to remove samples for biopsy, relieve an obstruction of the bile duct or place a stent into a narrowed duct to keep it open.

Fiducial markers: Fiducial markers are placed inside a tumor before radiation therapy. Using these markers allows for more precise targeting of tumors and helps reduce harm to healthy tissue.

Jejunostomy tube (J-tube): This feeding tube is inserted through the abdomen and into the second part of the small intestine, known as the jejunum. Patients who receive a feeding tube may be having difficulty digesting food or may inhale food into their lungs.

Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD): Commonly called an upper endoscopy, this procedure is used both to diagnose and treat conditions of the upper gastrointestinal tract. The doctor views the lining of the esophagus, stomach and beginning of the small intestine using real-time images from a camera attached to a thin, flexible tube called an endoscope. An EGD may be used to treat cancer of the esophagus, stomach and small intestine.

Nd: YAG laser: The Nd: YAG (neodymium: yttrium-aluminum-garnet) laser shrinks or destroys tumors and/or helps relieve symptoms in difficult-to-reach areas of the body, such as the lungs, esophagus or colon.

A high-power laser beam burns, or “vaporizes,” the tumor. The cancer is evaporated, and the vapor is suctioned out through an endoscope or bronchoscope.

The Nd: YAG laser is often used to treat large, obstructive masses that causing symptoms such as bleeding or obstruction but cannot be removed surgically. For example, the laser may be used to remove an obstruction in the esophageal tract to relieve swallowing difficulties, or in the airways to improve breathing.

Needle-based ablation: Needle-based ablation is a localized cancer treatment that uses high-energy radio waves or microwaves to heat and destroy cancerous cells.

Using a CT scan for guidance, a thin probe is temporarily inserted into a tumor through a tiny incision in the skin. The probe releases heat and destroys cancer cells. This procedure may be used to treat tumors when surgery is not an option or to relieve other symptoms related to cancer treatment.