Cancer Care

Gastrointestinal Cancer

Cancers that affect the digestive system, including cancer of the esophagus, stomach and gallbladder, colon, and rectum along with gastrointestinal stromal tumors, are collectively known as "gastrointestinal cancers." Though there may be a wide range of causes including age, lifestyle is believed to be the primary culprit in raising risk for gastrointestinal cancer. Specifically, smoking, obesity and excessive alcohol intake are associated with higher rates of gastrointestinal cancers.

At Carilion Clinic, we perform endoscopic (non-surgical) procedures under intravenous sedation so you can be relaxed and comfortable. Our expert gastroenterologists are skilled in evaluating and treating people with a wide range of advanced diagnostic and therapeutic modalities, including:

  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), combining endoscopy and x-ray to examine and treat problems of the bile and pancreatic ducts.
  • Upper endoscopy (EGD), which allows us to see and treat the esophagus, stomach and the beginning of the small intestine.
  • Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS), which combines the flexibility of an endoscope with the high-quality images of ultrasound, and can be used to diagnose and treat many problems of the pancreas, bile duct, esophagus, stomach and colon.
  • Colonoscopy, an examination of the inside of the colon and rectum. This test can detect ulcers and growths (polyps) inside the colon. If polyps are found, they can be removed at the same time. Colonoscopy looks for early signs of colon cancer and can help diagnose problems related to bleeding, abdominal pain or changes in bowel habits. Colonoscopy not only looks for colon cancer, but can prevent it as well.
  • Capsule endoscopy, which uses a pill-sized camera patients swallow that takes pictures inside the GI tract that are sent to a receiver worn outside the body, allowing doctors to see what's happening as your body digests food.

Carilion offers multidisciplinary care for gastrointestinal cancer, with highly skilled specialists in surgery, oncology, radiation oncology, pathology and imaging. In collaboration with physicians of Blue Ridge Cancer Care, we provide the full range of gastrointestinal cancer treatments, including chemotherapy and radiation, on both an in-patient and out-patient basis.

We emphasize a multidisciplinary approach to care. Every patient benefits from the collaborative expertise of an experienced team of specialists who meet regularly to discuss each patient's care and progress. Our surgeons, specialists in minimally invasive procedures, have extensive experience treating all types of cancer. We encourage patients and their loved ones to participate in a wide range of complementary and alternative treatments, including support groups, nutritional counseling, massage and more.


We have a team of doctors and nurses who specialize in ostomy care and are available to help people who have issues related to ostomy, including wounds or rashes. We can also refit appliances.

Q & A: Get to Know Paul Yeaton, M.D., Chief, Gastroenterology