Medical Treatment of Gastrointestinal Cancer

Medical treatment for gastrointestinal (GI) cancer – including chemotherapy and targeted therapy – involves therapies to kill cancer cells, to stop them from growing, to attack their abnormalities, or to decrease the chance of them returning.

The medical oncologists who treat gastrointestinal cancer at UT Southwestern Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center are subspecialized, which means they focus specifically on treating GI cancer. They work with a multidisciplinary team of other subspecialists, including surgical oncologists and radiation oncologists, to determine the best treatment plan for you and your cancer.

Access to New Treatments

When you receive care at UT Southwestern, you have access to the latest medical treatments. When the standard of care isn’t enough, you want another option.

As an academic medical center and the only cancer center in North Texas designated by the National Cancer Institute, we can offer new treatments for GI cancers as soon as they’re available or at their earliest stages of development, before they become available at other medical centers.

For example, when the drug regorafenib (commercial name Stivarga) was being evaluated in clinical trials for the treatment of colon cancer, UT Southwestern was the only site in Texas where the drug was available for a long period of time. This drug is now FDA approved for some patients with colon cancer and advanced gastrointestinal stromal tumors that cannot be surgically removed and no longer respond to other FDA-approved treatments.

Chemotherapy and Targeted Therapy

In GI cancers, medical treatment varies depending on the cancer. Sometimes we use medical treatments to shrink the cancer before an operation; sometimes we use treatments after surgery if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. We may also use medical treatments to relieve symptoms of GI cancer that has spread to other areas of the body.

Medical treatments for GI cancer include:

Use of drugs to destroy cancer cells, usually by stopping their ability to grow and divide
Targeted therapy
Use of drugs that target the cancer’s specific genes or proteins or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival; this type of treatment, which is not appropriate for everyone, blocks the growth and spread of cancer cells while limiting damage to healthy cells

Clinical Trials

UT Southwestern offers clinical trials that may provide you with an opportunity to complement traditional therapy for GI cancers with the newest, most promising treatment strategies. Talk with your doctor to determine if a clinical trial is right for you.

Request an Appointment

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

Our GI Cancer Medical Treatment Specialists