Gastrointestinal Diseases

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What to Expect

If you or someone you know has recently been diagnosed with cancer, a few thoughts to consider are:

  • Don't rush into a decision about treatment. Unless your doctor tells you that your situation is urgent, take a little time to do some research and get a second opinion if you want one. Then, carefully consider your options. Talk with your doctor about how long you can safely wait before having surgery or beginning treatment.
  • Inform yourself. You will find a number of resources on the web, including this web site. You may want to read about treatment options and the doctors and other medical professionals who will care for you. You may hear a lot about diseases and treatments on the news and from friends and relatives. Remember—all cancers are not the same. The treatment a friend or relative had may not be right for you.
  • Take care of yourself. Exercise and a healthy diet are especially important now. Ongoing support and self care can make a huge difference in how you feel and your quality of life during your treatment. You may want to join a support group or talk to a social worker or nutritionist.
  • Ask someone you trust to go with you to doctors' appointments and tests. This person can provide emotional support, help by taking notes and doing research on your disease and treatment options. Keep all your information in a notebook. Be sure there is a section for questions and concerns for your cancer care team.

Your first visit

Where you are seen on your first visit depends on your health-care needs. You will either be seen at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (south Lake Union) or at University of Washington Medical Center (University district). The doctors at both sites work as a closely knit team along with other SCCA professionals.

Is surgery your first step?

If you have been diagnosed and it has already been determined that you need surgery first, your first visit will be at UW Medical Center. You will receive further care and treatment at SCCA.

Do you need an evaluation by SCCA oncology? 

If you have been diagnosed and need to be evaluated by an oncologist to discuss your treatment options, you will be seen at SCCA. Our team of specialists will review your information, do any additional tests, and discuss your diagnosis and treatment options with you.

Here’s what happens at a surgery appointment:

  • Your surgeon, a doctor specially trained in gastrointestinal surgery, will review your medical records, including any tests or biopsies you have already had.
  • You and your surgeon will meet, and you will have a complete physical examination.
  • Your surgeon will explain why it is advisable for you to have surgery before you begin any other treatment, explain your surgery options, and how it fits into your overall cancer care.
  • You will leave the appointment knowing what your next steps should be.

What you can expect at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance:

  • Expert team of cancer specialists includes doctors who focus almost exclusively on treating patients with gastrointestinal cancers. They talk with each other—and with you—so together you can choose the best possible treatment.
  • Compassionate care by a closely knit team that includes a nurse case manager, nurse practitioner, social worker, and registered dietician. Each has an important role in your care.
  • Access to clinical trials, some based on research by the same doctors who will be treating you.
  • Information on ongoing support and self-care for you and your family while you are going through cancer treatment: education, support groups, resources, and help to look and feel your best.
  • Follow-up care after you have completed treatment, provided by the same team of specialists caring for you now.
  • Patient education including information about colorectal cancer, screenings, assessing your risk and prevention.