Treatment

At Premier Health, we treat all types of gastrointestinal (GI) cancer. Our cancer specialists work together with you to design a personalized treatment plan.

We provide high quality, patient-focused care with advanced technology, innovative programs, and experienced caregivers conveniently located throughout Southwest Ohio.

We’ll consider the type, stage, and specific characteristics of your GI cancer, plus your age and overall health, to recommend one or more of the following treatment strategies:

  • Surgery to remove the primary (main) cancer tumor or other tumors
  • Chemotherapy/radiation therapy to kill or stop the growth or spread of cancer cells
  • Chemotherapy/radiation therapy to prevent or delay your cancer's return
  • Specialized interventional radiology techniques for certain tumors
  • Symptom management for pain or other cancer-related symptoms

How We Treat GI Cancer

Our focus is always on your individual needs and experience. We can draw on the expertise of our Premier Health Multidisciplinary Treatment Conference, where specialists from the cancer care team meet to review and discuss your medical condition and treatment options. If the team wants additional review and input, we can present your case to the MD Anderson Multidisciplinary Planning Conference.

We may use one or more of the following treatment options as we treat your cancer. We’ll also be there to listen to you and help you and your family cope with the emotional and psychological impact of colorectal cancer.

Gastrointestinal Cancer Surgery

Surgery to remove the cancerous tumor and cancer cells in surrounding tissue is often the first line of treatment for early stages of GI cancer.

At Premier Health, we offer traditional surgery as well as advanced, minimally invasive surgical techniques to remove your tumor and surrounding lymph nodes. For some types of GI cancer, we may use robotic-assisted surgery to better visualize the tumor and more precisely remove the tumor while sparing healthy vital structures.

For more advanced stages of cancer, surgery often is part of an effective treatment plan, along with medical therapies and/or radiation therapy. If GI cancer has spread to other organs (in certain cancer types), our surgeons often are able to surgically remove those additional tumors.

Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of the two are sometimes used before surgery if we want to shrink a large tumor to make it easier to remove.

Medical Therapies

Medical therapies often provide additional ways to eradicate cancer cells, either before or after surgery. We have several comfortable outpatient infusion centers where you can receive treatment. In some locations, we offer massage therapy, art therapy, and other services.

At Premier Health, we offer these medical therapies for GI cancer:

Chemotherapy, which can be given as pills, an injection, or through an IV to stop the growth and spread of colon or rectal cancer cells. We may use this before surgery to shrink your tumor or after surgery to eliminate any remaining cancer cells. We aggressively treat not only your cancer, but also the side effects of chemotherapy, such as nausea or pain.

Immunotherapy/biological therapy boosts your immune system to increase your body’s natural ability to fight cancer. It is used when cancer cells have tested positive for specific gene changes.

Tumor-targeted therapy involves analyzing your tumor and selecting a combination of drugs to combat your specific type of colon or rectal cancer. At Premier Health, we offer several variations with multiple combinations, although targeted therapy isn’t an option for every person.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses radiation beams of intense energy to destroy cancer cells, while keeping normal organs safe. At Premier Health, we offer four types of radiation therapy for people with cancers of the esophagus, liver, pancreas, and stomach. Radiation treatments may be given before, after, or instead of surgery. Your doctor will talk with you about which approach is best for your unique circumstances.

Radiation therapy options include:

  • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). Our radiation oncology experts deliver high-energy X-rays from multiple angles to your tumor. A computer performs advanced calculations so a linear accelerator machine can deliver the radiation precisely to the tumor, while limiting damage to the healthy tissue surrounding the cancer. You will receive treatments over multiple days.
  • Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT). SBRT is an alternative to surgery for a localized tumor that hasn’t spread, especially for liver and pancreatic cancer. Another name for this technique is stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR). High doses of radiation are delivered to the tumor via a linear accelerator machine while you are lying on the treatment table. Prior to delivering the radiation treatment, CT imaging precisely pinpoints the tumor’s exact location. This treatment uses intensely focused multiple radiation beams in an efficient fashion to destroy the localized tumor(s). If your doctor has recommended SBRT, you will generally have two to five treatments, with each treatment taking about 20 to 25 minutes. Advantages of this treatment option are that there is no incision and you do not have to stay in the hospital overnight.
  • High-Dose-Rate (HDR) Brachytherapy. Another alternative to surgery, especially for esophageal and stomach cancer, is to place a high-activity, tiny radioactive source right next to the tumor. The small radioactive seed is placed at the end of a wire, which travels within a small tube to the tumor site. Nearby normal organs are not affected. You will remain awake for the outpatient procedure, which takes about three to four hours for imaging, tube placement, and treatment. You may typically need one to three treatment sessions.
  • 3D Conformal Radiation. This radiation therapy is called external beam radiation and often is used if your tumor has an irregular shape or is located close to healthy tissues and organs. Our newer linear accelerator allows your doctor to see your tumor in three dimensions and sculpt radiation beams to the tumor’s shape, sparing healthy tissue surrounding the tumor. You will receive treatments over several days.

In limited applications, to further protect organs in the chest during IMRT or 3D treatment, Premier Health has respiratory gated radiation therapy available. This therapy tracks the tumor and halts the radiation beam momentarily if your breathing or other movements threaten to move the beam outside the targeted area. This prevents exposing nearby organs to radiation.

Another tool we have to accommodate for internal breathing motion is a 4D CT scanner. The 4D CT scanner does a series of scans through your breathing cycle in order to capture and model the tumor motion during normal breathing. This helps us accurately map the tumor movement, which is helpful in creating a proper treatment plan.

Interventional Radiology

Our interventional radiologists are specially trained to offer you advanced treatments and procedures for difficult-to-treat tumors using image-guided therapies.

Often referred to as interventional oncology, this treatment is one of the newest and most aggressive options in cancer treatment today. It targets and treats cancers that cannot be treated surgically. Instead, radiologists use extreme heat, cold, or microwave energy to kill tumors. There is a low risk of complications, and many people return home the same day.

Palliative Care

When treatments no longer are effective against cancer, Premier Health offers palliative care to help improve quality of life and ease the symptoms of cancer.

Clinical Trials

Our cancer specialists actively participate in regional, national, and international research networks. Clinical trials provide another option when standard treatments are not working. Our goal is to connect you with the latest advances in cancer care. Talk to your doctor about your clinical trial options and learn more about clinical trials at Premier Health.

Your Gastrointestinal Cancer Care Team

Treating gastrointestinal cancer requires a team approach. Our board-certified, fellowship-trained surgical oncologists, medical oncologists, and radiation oncologists communicate regularly to discuss your diagnosis, treatment plan, and treatment progress. We have specialized tumor conferences routinely to discuss complex cases.

Premier Health is a certified member of MD Anderson Cancer Network®, a program of MD Anderson Cancer Center, the top-ranked cancer center in the United States.

As an affiliate of MD Anderson Cancer Network®, Premier Health and our certified cancer specialists routinely discuss challenging cases with experts at MD Anderson Cancer Center.  

If you have an unusual or complex situation, your physician may consult with a cancer expert at MD Anderson to receive input on your case.

A nurse navigator will be your primary point of contact throughout diagnosis, treatment, and recovery, easing your cancer journey by guiding and linking you to additional services and information.

We also have gastroenterologists and pathologists to assist with diagnosis and cancer staging throughout your cancer journey. As needed, we will consult our specialists in wound care and hyperbaric oxygen treatment for optimal tissue healing.

Learn More About Specific GI Cancers

Get additional information about treatment for:

Contact Us

Our cancer team is here for you. Our cancer specialists have access to nationally recognized cancer care protocols and best practices, since Premier Health is a certified member of MD Anderson Cancer Network®, a program of MD Anderson Cancer Center. Our patients benefit from advanced local care backed by the world-renowned expertise of the nation’s leading cancer center. 

Call the Premier Health cancer hotline at (844) 316-HOPE(844) 316-4673 (4673), Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., to connect with a Premier Health cancer navigator.