Gastrointestinal Cancer Diagnosis
A thorough and accurate diagnosis of gastrointestinal (GI) cancer is the first step to treating it most effectively. At UT Southwestern Medical Center, we offer advanced diagnostic techniques customized to the location of the cancer in the digestive tract.
Our experts at the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center focus solely on identifying GI cancers. They will discuss each patient’s diagnosis with the rest of the GI cancer team and determine a treatment plan specific to that patient and his or her cancer.
Some of the most common diagnostic tests for gastrointestinal cancers include colonoscopy, endoscopy, biopsy, and imaging.
Endoscopic tests allow us to look inside the body using an instrument called an endoscope, which is a flexible tube with a light and tiny camera attached to it. Endoscopic tests to diagnose GI cancers might include these nonsurgical procedures:
- Colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy: Used to screen for
- Upper GI endoscopy: Examines the lining
of the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract, including the esophagus,
stomach, and duodenum
UT Southwestern takes endoscopy a step further than other centers in North Texas with our advanced endoscopy program led by Nisa Kubiliun, M.D., an interventional endoscopist.
Dr. Kubiliun and her colleagues use the most up-to-date endoscopic techniques, such as endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) and endoscopic ultrasound (EUS), to diagnose, stage, and sometimes treat patients with cancers of the esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, bile ducts, and colon.
During a biopsy, we remove a sample of the abnormal tissue so it can be examined for cancer by a pathologist. We often use endoscopic procedures to obtain a biopsy. Based on these biopsies, we can often make decisions about the behavior of a tumor and form the right treatment plan.
Diagnostic imaging for GI cancers might include:
- Computed tomography (CT) scan: Using an X-ray that takes many pictures
- Ultrasound: Using sound waves and their echoes to produce a picture
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): Using radio waves and magnets to produce an image
- Positron emission tomography (PET) scan: Using radioactive sugar that is injected into the
blood and observed with a special camera
Specialized radiologists at UT Southwestern perform these imaging tests to diagnose GI cancers. Our radiologists are on the cutting edge in the development of new techniques to see more and smaller tumors using the most advanced equipment.
We work with a patient’s oncologists throughout treatment to identify meaningful changes in tumors to help guide treatment decisions. In particular, UT Southwestern’s body MRI radiologists are internationally recognized for their innovative techniques and expertise.