Gastrointestinal Oncology Surgery

GI Cancer refers to malignancies pertaining to the GI tract. This could include esophagus, stomach, pancreas, small and large intestine, colon and rectum.

GI Anatomy

Specific Types of GI Cancer

Treatment

Surgery is often the most effective treatment for gastrointestinal cancers, and research indicates that the number of cases treated at a facility greatly impacts patient survival. Every year, UF Health surgeons in the UF Health GI Oncology Center see and treat more than 1,000 patients with gastrointestinal cancers, including patients with complicated cases whose tumors are considered inoperable at many other institutions. Many of our physicians are fellowship-trained at some of the leading cancer centers in the world and have specialized training in minimally invasive and transplant surgery techniques. As a result, they bring patients the latest, most innovative surgical approaches for treatment of gastrointestinal cancers, including:

  • Sphincter-preserving surgical procedures:
    • Transanal resection
    • Transanal endoscopic microsurgery, pioneered by UF colorectal surgeons
    • Transsacral resection
    • Low rectal cancer resection with coloanal J-pouch reconstruction
    • Robotic-assisted rectal cancer resection
  • Minimally invasive or laparoscopic resection of the colon, esophagus, liver pancreas, rectum and stomach
  • Spleen-preserving pancreatic surgery
  • Transhiatal or transthoracic esophagectomy
  • Sentinel lymph node biopsy
  • Minimally invasive esophagectomy, offered by only a handful of surgeons nationwide
  • Liver metastases resection and ablation
  • Liver transplantation
  • Peritoneal metastasis resection and hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC)

Medical Gastrointestinal Oncology

Specialized UF Health gastrointestinal medical oncologists in the UF Health GI Oncology Center deliver comprehensive, state-of-the-art medical oncology therapy for patients with all types of GI cancers. The team provides immediate access to a wide variety of unique technologies and therapeutic approaches, including chemoembolization of liver tumors and other novel and investigational chemotherapies and targeted therapeutics. Many of these oncologists are involved in the testing or development of the next generation of less toxic, highly precise targeted cancer therapies. The UF Health Precision Cancer Care program includes CLIA-certified molecular profiling of clinically relevant and therapeutically actionable mutations in many of the common GI malignancies. This service is routinely included in the comprehensive multidisciplinary treatment recommendations and plan.

Gastroenterology

Physicians from the UF division of gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition play an important part in the treatment of patients with GI cancers. They perform advanced diagnostic and therapeutic endoscopic procedures for the entire gastrointestinal tract, liver, bile duct and pancreas. These include:

  • Endoscopic ultrasonography (EUS) with fine needle aspiration biopsy
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) with cholangioscopy and pancreatoscopy
  • Enteral stenting, including esophagus, duodenum, rectum and colon
  • Photodynamic therapy
  • Cryotherapy
  • Endoscopic mucosal resection

UF physicians from the division were the first in the state to offer cholangioscopy and pancreatoscopy. Every year, they perform more than 700 EUS and 700 ERCP procedures at UF Health Shands, more than any other hospital in the state and provide care to patients whose cases are too complicated for other hospitals to manage.

Gastrointestinal Radiation Oncology

The UF department of radiation oncology works closely with the UF Health GI oncology team in the treatment of patients with gastrointestinal tract malignancies. Numerous highly precise and targeted radiotherapy treatment protocols are incorporated into customized patient treatment plans, including:

  • Sphincter-preserving chemo-radiotherapy
  • Precision external beam radiotherapy
    • 3-D conformal radiotherapy (3DCRT)
    • Intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT)
    • Image guided radiotherapy (IGRT)
    • Stereotactic radiotherapy
  • Intraoperative radiotherapy including brachytherapy for retroperitoneal sarcoma and recurrent malignancies after prior radiotherapy
  • Radioactive microspheres for the treatment of liver tumors
  • Radiofrequency ablation of liver tumors
  • Proton-beam therapy for some gastrointestinal malignancies

Support Services

Social Workers are available for oncology patients to help deal with a cancer diagnosis and potential treatments.

Social Work Service

Our goal is to assist you through the treatment process in a number of practical and supportive ways. The following is a partial list of the ways that social workers may help you and your family:

  • Assisting with problem solving, coordination and adapting to complex issues related to your health care needs
  • Arranging home health or hospice care and/or durable medical equipment
  • Referral for financial, lodging or transportation resources related to your treatment, medications needs or other care
  • Dealing with emotional reactions following a cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment(s)
  • Coping with physical changes from surgery or treatment
  • Helping you and your family learn about your disease and treatment
  • Looking at changes in sexual functioning
  • Discussing work concerns
  • Making quality of life decisions in coordination with your goals of treatment
  • Crisis intervention, grief and loss concerns

How an Oncology Social Worker Can Help

An oncology social worker provides services, such as counseling, education, and information and referrals to community resources, including support groups. An oncology social worker often acts as a liaison between people with cancer and the medical team, and helps people find ways to navigate the health-care system. He or she works with the medical team to make sure people with cancer get the information they need to make informed choices about their care, and the support needed to manage the day-to-day challenges of living with cancer.

Taking Care of the Whole Person

There are many aspects of a person’s life outside of cancer. Cancer affects each person in a different way. An oncology social worker is a professional with a master’s degree who has specialized training in how a diagnosis of cancer affects a person and his or her family and friends. The oncology social worker’s expertise is a comprehensive view of the person living with cancer that is respectful of each individual’s ethnicity, spirituality, family situation, unique strengths and challenges, and it is his or her job to represent a person’s interests and needs to the medical team.

For most people, a cancer diagnosis brings with it new feelings and experiences. Talking to a professional who has helped other people manage similar situations may help a person find ways to improve quality of life, manage fears, and find hope. A social worker talks to people about the different aspects of adjusting to the cancer, and helps find strategies to adapt to, and manage health-care concerns. This can happen through individual, couples, and family counseling; support groups; and referrals to community agencies that have additional support programs.

To Reach a Social Worker

  • In Gainesville- (352) 265-0224 (Patient & Family Resources)
  • In Jacksonville- (904) 244-4133 (Case Management/Social Services)

Useful Links

See additional resources for patients and others seeking information about cancer.