Gastrointestinal Diseases

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Facts

The Gastrointestinal (GI) tract refers to all the organs responsible for the ingestion of food (eating), digestion, absorption, and defecation.

The upper GI tract is the mouth, pharynx, esophagus, and stomach. The lower GI tract refers to the bowel (or intestine) and anus. The small intestine is made up of the duodenum, the jejunum, and the ileum. The large intestine is made up of the cecum, colon, and rectum.

Cancer can occur in most any place in your body. The most common types of GI cancers are:

Anal cancer 
Forms in or on the anus, a part of the gastrointestinal tract at the end of the large intestine, below the rectum; the opening where bowel movements leave the body. The anus is made up of different types of cells, and each type can become cancerous. The most common type of anal cancer is squamous cell carcinoma.  

Colon cancer
Forms in the tissues of the colon, the longest part of the large intestine, is called colon cancer. Most colon cancers are adenocarcinomas and begin in the cells that make mucus and other fluids. 

Esophageal cancer
Forms in the tissues that line the esophagus. There are two types of esophageal cancer: squamous cell carcinoma (cancer that begins in flat cells lining the esophagus) and adenocarcinoma (cancer that begins in cells that make and release mucus and other fluids).

Pancreatic cancer 
Forms in the pancreas, an organ which sits near the stomach and small intestines. The pancreas is responsible for producing digestive juices to help digest food as well as insulin, which helps regulate glucose levels in the body. Pancreas cancers typically form in the ducts which pass through the pancreas gland.   

While it is a serious disease, pancreas cancer is rare. The American Cancer Society estimates that nearly 40,000 people in the United States (less than one-tenth of a percent of the population) will be diagnosed with a form of pancreas cancer.
 
Stomach cancer
Forms in tissues that line the stomach; it’s also called gastric cancer.
 

Non-Cancer GI Diseases

SCCA is now offering a clinical trial for Crohn's disease, an inflammatory bowel disorder that in severe cases does not respond to standard treatments.