Types of Gastrointestinal Cancer | MedStar Health
Image of a healthcare professional and a patient with gastrointestinal cancer

Gastrointestinal cancer is the most common and the most fatal of all cancers, yet continues to be dramatically under-funded. This year, 290,000 Americans will be diagnosed with a GI cancer and more than 50% will die within five years. No two tumors are exactly alike.

The Ruesch Center for the Cure of Gastrointestinal Cancers at the MedStar Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center is a global pioneer, unmatched by any other GI cancer program. Relentlessly fighting a smarter war against GI cancer by partnering with patients based on their unique needs, the Ruesch Center is carrying out cutting-edge, innovative research, and providing the highest standard of care and individualized cures.

Gastrointestinal (GI) cancer includes cancer of the GI tract, which include those organs that digest and draw nutrients from food.

  • Esophagus
  • Stomach
  • Small intestine
  • Large intestine

GI cancer can also occur in the following, gastrointestinal-related organs:

  • Rectum
  • Anal canal
  • Pancreas
  • Gallbladder
  • Bile duct
  • Liver

We understand how difficult a cancer diagnosis is, and we want you to know, our cancer teams are devoted to your care—from diagnosis to treatment to follow-up care, our knowledgeable doctors and nurses will answer any questions you may have and will be with you every step of the way.


Multidisciplinary approach with a team of specialists

  • Our highly specialized surgical oncologists work with specialists renowned in the fields of radiation oncology and chemotherapy

  • Proton Beam Therapy uses energy from protons instead of photons, allowing high dose radiation with no exit dose, resulting in fewer side effects than traditional radiation

  • Each patient is evaluated by a team of experts in weekly multidisciplinary tumor board meetings to formulate the best plan of care
  • We offer the whole spectrum of surgical options, from minimally invasive laparoscopic procedures to complex resections and reconstructions of the gastrointestinal tract
  • We regularly treat even the rarest forms of stomach cancer, such as GIST tumors, and lead the clinical trials that have revolutionized the treatment of this disease

  • Our doctors are experts in intraperitoneal chemotherapy for peritoneal metastases from gastrointestinal cancers, allowing direct contact of cancer-fighting drugs into the abdomen

Click the video below to watch Dr. Ben Weinberg answer the questions he gets most from his colon cancer patients.

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Gastrointestinal cancer care at MedStar Georgetown

At the Ruesch Center, we believe the future of GI cancer treatment hinges on a highly personalized approach to finding the right drugs for the right patients. As an international center of excellence, part of one of only 40 comprehensive cancer centers in the country and one of only a few that focuses exclusively on GI cancers, we are working tirelessly by:

  • Advancing science and research: In the last four years, the Ruesch Center has supported more than 50 clinical trials, with 119 (18%) of our current patients enrolled on a trial. More than 2,000 tissue and blood samples, in combination with clinical data, of GI patients have been stored and are available for use in future cancer research. Learn more about current research and clinical trials.

  • Changing lives and outcomes: Our nurse navigators, who offer critical medical guidance, support, and direction for patients and their families through the cancer treatment process, have touched the lives of more than 2,800 patients.
  • Cultivating innovators of the future: Our student summer program has grown from two students in the early years to 14 in the coming summer and engages participants in research and patient care.
  • Collaborating and sharing insights: The center has established scientific collaborations with over 12 local, national, and international partners, including the creation of a Global Alliance, resulting in research papers that have influenced treatment across the globe.

Screening and prevention

MedStar Health offers the most advanced screening technologies for cancers of all types. Accurate screening is key to detecting cancer early, when treatment is most likely to be successful. Learn more.

Some gastrointestinal cancers can be prevented through regular screening and by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and avoiding tobacco products.


No two tumors are exactly alike. Treating all GI cancer patients with standard chemotherapy regimens is ineffective for the vast majority of people and financially unsustainable.

At MedStar Health, we believe the future of GI cancer treatment hinges on a highly personalized approach to finding the right drugs for the right patients. 

Learn more about treating gastrointestinal cancer.

Our providers

Oncologist giving IV Drip Treatment to Cancer Patient

Expert oncology care

Getting the care you need starts with seeing one of our oncologists.


MedStar Health delivers comprehensive gastrointestinal cancer services in a variety of locations, close to where you live and work.

Find a location near you.

Additional information

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Awards & Recognitions

The MedStar Georgetown University Hospital Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated comprehensive cancer center in the Washington, D.C., region.