Diagnosis of Gastrointestinal Cancer

A thorough and accurate diagnosis of gastrointestinal (GI) cancer is the first step to treating it most effectively. At UT Southwestern, we offer advanced diagnostic techniques customized to where the cancer is located in the digestive tract.

Our diagnosis experts focus solely on identifying GI cancers. They will discuss your diagnosis with the rest of the GI cancer team and determine a treatment plan specific to you and your cancer.

Diagnostic Tests

Some of the most common diagnostic tests for gastrointestinal cancers include colonoscopy, endoscopy, biopsy, and imaging.


Endoscopic tests allow us to look inside your 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 may include these nonsurgical procedures:

Colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy
Used to screen for colorectal cancer
Upper GI endoscopy
Examines the lining of the upper part of your gastrointestinal tract, including the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum

Advanced Endoscopy

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, including 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, your doctor will remove a sample of the abnormal area 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 your tumor and form the right treatment plan.


Diagnostic imaging for GI cancers may include:

Computed tomography (CT) scan
Using an X-ray that takes many pictures
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’ll work with your 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.

Our Gastrointestinal Cancer Diagnosis Specialists

Request an Appointment

To schedule an appointment with a GI cancer specialist, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.