Carolinas HealthCare System

The gastrointestinal (GI) system includes the entire digestive tract. GI cancers are those that affect the esophagus, stomach, liver, small or large intestine, colon, rectum, appendix, anus, pancreas and bile duct.

Another term describing the intestines, colon and rectum is “bowel.” Some cancer tumors, such as those found in the small intestine or colon, may cause symptoms as they grow or spread (metastasize); others, such as cancers growing in the stomach, pancreas and appendix, may not initially cause symptoms. Such cancers are sometimes found during testing for other conditions.

Symptoms of gastrointestinal cancer depend on where in the GI tract the tumor is growing. You may have:

  • abdominal pain
  • bloating
  • blood in the stool
  • change in stool color, size or frequency
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • fatigue
  • heartburn
  • jaundice
  • nausea, vomiting or trouble swallowing
  • rectal painun
  • expected weight loss

It’s important to remember these symptoms can be caused by other, less serious conditions. Make sure to see your healthcare provider about your concerns and for a definitive diagnosis.