Gastrointestinal Cancer Facts

Northwestern Hospital

  • Gastrointestinal (GI) cancer is cancer of the organs of the digestive system, including the pancreas, liver, stomach, colon, esophagus, gallbladder, small intestine and rectum.
  • Each year, an estimated 250,000 people are diagnosed with GI cancer.
  • GI cancer takes the lives of over 100, 000 people annually.
  • Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women and the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States.
  • Primary cancer of the liver is the most common malignancy worldwide.
  • GI cancer ranks as the 14th most common cancer in the world today.
  • Most GI cancers develop without any predisposing cause. There is no apparent cause and effect relationship or any known risk factors.
  • Gastrointestinal cancers rarely cause symptoms until the disease is quite advanced. Early detection is critical.

Although gastrointestinal cancers are among the most aggressive and deadliest cancers, they are often the least publicly discussed, resulting in fewer funds being directed toward gastrointestinal cancer studies.

  • The United States has not established any programs for primary prevention of gastric cancers.
  • The United States currently has no plans to initiate screening programs for the detection and prevention of gastrointestinal cancers.

Recognizing the imperative need, HEEF is now one of the nation’s largest private organizations committed to gastrointestinal cancer research.