Expert care for gastrointestinal cancers in Richmond

Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at Henrico Doctors’ Hospital is committed to providing comprehensive gastrointestinal and colorectal cancer care in Richmond, Virginia. Our gastroenterology specialists are with you every step of the way, from understanding your diagnosis and nutritional needs to sharing details about Sarah Cannon clinical trials and transitioning to survivorship.

Learn more about gastrointestinal cancer care at Henrico Doctors' Hospital by calling our Consult-A-Nurse® line at (804) 320-3627.

Types of gastrointestinal cancers we treat

Gastrointestinal cancers, also commonly called GI cancers, affect the organs in your body that are a part of the digestive system. Types of GI cancers include:

  • Esophageal cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Colon cancer (small or large intestine)
  • Liver cancer, including the bile ducts
  • Neuroendocrine cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Anal cancer

Comprehensive services for GI cancers

Beyond providing expert care for gastrointestinal cancers, we integrate education and support throughout your treatment. Our patients benefit from a range of accompanying services, including:

  • Gastrointestinal cancer nurse navigation
  • Nutritional guidance
  • Rehabilitation
  • Support groups

GI cancer screening

Our expert physicians provide advanced gastrointestinal cancer screening and early detection. At Henrico Doctors’ Hospital, we perform the following GI cancer screening tests:

  • Colonoscopy
  • Endoscopy
  • Blood tests
  • Molecular or genetic testing
  • Endoscopic ultrasounds
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan
  • X-ray

It is important to remember that there are many different types of gastrointestinal cancers, and the screening and diagnosis process can vary greatly.

Diagnosing gastrointestinal cancers

Typically, doctors diagnose GI cancers when a patient’s symptoms lead to a doctor visit. Based on the displayed symptoms, your doctor will order tests to confirm their initial diagnosis. Additional tests to confirm the presence, stage and/or spread of the cancer may include:

  • Biopsy
  • Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP)
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
  • Endoscopic ultrasound with fine needle aspiration biopsy
  • CT scan
  • CT/PET scan
  • MRI
  • Additional blood tests

A physical exam, combined with all of your test results, will help determine the type and stage of cancer. Staging helps your doctor guide your treatment plan.

GI cancer treatment

When you choose Henrico Doctors’ Hospital, your oncology nurse navigator will walk you through your cancer treatment. Your treatment plan may include a combination of approaches, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and oral medication. The type of treatment you receive is dependent on the characteristics of the cancer, evidence-based guidelines, your age, your general health and your prognosis.

Because GI cancers can be complex, our multidisciplinary cancer care team meets monthly to review each case of colon, rectal, esophageal, pancreatic and stomach cancer. These meetings are designed to provide care that goes beyond diagnosis and treatment.

Members of the multidisciplinary cancer care team at Henrico Doctors’ Hospital include:

  • Gastroenterologists
  • General surgeons
  • Radiologists
  • Pathologists
  • Medical oncologists
  • Radiation oncologists
  • Oncology dietitians
  • Oncology nurse navigator

Gastrointestinal cancer nurse navigator

If you require further testing, biopsy, surgery or treatments, our dedicated GI cancer nurse navigator will be with you every step of the way. Our nurse navigator will work closely with you and your doctors so you will know and understand all of your options and receive the treatment, care, education and support you need

Colorectal cancer care

According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer, commonly referred to as colon cancer, is the third most common cancer affecting both men and women in the U.S., posing a one in 21 risk for men and a one in 23 risk for women. At Henrico Doctors’ Hospital, we provide advanced diagnostics, screenings and treatments for colon and rectal cancers.

Screening for colon cancer

Colonoscopy is an effective tool for preventing and diagnosing both colon and rectal cancer, commonly referred to as colon cancer. Regular screenings can detect colorectal cancer early, when treatment is most effective, by identifying and removing polyps before they become cancerous.

If cancer is present, early detection indicates a chance for a cure and longer life. More than 90 percent of people diagnosed with early stage colorectal cancer survive more than five years.

To determine if you are a candidate for a colon cancer screening, answer the following questions:

  • Are you 50 years old or older?
  • Have you ever had ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease?
  • Has anyone in your family had colon cancer or colon polyps?
  • Do you smoke?
  • Have you or anyone in your family ever had uterine, ovarian or inherited breast cancer?
  • Are you physically inactive?
  • Is your diet high in red meat and fat?

If you answered “yes” to the first question and “no” to the others, you have an average risk for colon cancer. If you answered “yes” to the first, plus any of the other questions, you have an increased risk. Everyone 50 years old and older should be screened for colorectal cancer.

Diagnosing colorectal cancer

Our physicians at Henrico Doctors’ Hospital diagnose colorectal cancer by checking the rectum for lumps or abnormal areas and recommending different tests to identify tumors and confirm a diagnosis. Tests used to identify potential colon cancer include:

  • Fecal occult blood test
  • Colonoscopy
  • Sigmoidoscopy
  • Barium enema
  • CT colonography

The following additional tests and imaging procedures may confirm the presence of colon cancer, determine what stage the cancer is in and/or determine if the cancer has spread:

  • Biopsy
  • Polypectomy
  • CT scan
  • PET scan
  • Transrectal ultrasound
  • Blood tests

A physical exam, combined with all of your test results, will help determine the type and stage of cancer.

Colorectal cancer treatment

Our goal in treating colorectal cancer is to remove as much of the cancer as possible while preserving colon and/or rectal tissue and function. Additional treatment may help prevent the spread or recurrence of cancer.

Similarly to the treatment of other GI cancers, your treatment plan may include a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and medication.

Advanced care for liver cancer

We also offer an advanced, minimally invasive procedure called Y90 radioembolization to treat tumors that began in the liver or have spread to the liver from another part of the body. The procedure involves delivering a high dose of radiation directly to the liver while sparing normal, healthy tissue.

Gastrointestinal cancer videos

About Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute

Henrico Doctors’ Hospital is part of Sarah Cannon, the Cancer Institute of HCA Healthcare. Our family of hospitals provides comprehensive cancer services with convenient access to cutting-edge therapies for people facing cancer in our communities. From diagnosis, to treatment and survivorship care, our oncology expertise ensures you have access to locally-trusted care with the support of a globally-recognized network.

askSARAH helpline

Have cancer questions? We can help. askSARAH is a dedicated helpline for your cancer-related questions. Our specially-trained nurses are available 24/7 and all calls are confidential. Contact askSARAH at (804) 591-4152 or chat online at

Watch more videos about gastrointestinal cancers