Colorectal/GI Cancer Care

Several kinds of cancer can occur in the digestive system. This is where your body processes nutrients in the foods you eat and passes waste material out of the body.

Colon cancer is cancer of the large intestine (colon), the lower part of your digestive system. Rectal cancer is cancer of the last several inches of the colon. Together, they're often referred to as colorectal cancers. These cancers occur when cells that are not normal grow in your colon or rectum. The abnormal cells grow together and form tumors. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States. It occurs most often in people older than 50.

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Surgery is almost always used to treat colon and rectal cancer. The cancer is easily removed and often cured when it is found early. If the cancer has spread into the wall of the colon or farther, you may also need radiation or anti-cancer medications (chemotherapy). Surgery, radiation and chemotherapy are also used to treat other gastrointestinal cancers.

Among the tools Sacred Heart’s cancer team uses to treat colorectal and other gastrointestinal cancers are:

  • Endoscopic ultrasound with fine needle aspiration, an advanced technique used to diagnose and biopsy esophageal, stomach, pancreatic and rectal cancers.
  • Whipple procedure for pancreatic cancer. This delicate procedure removes the gall bladder and part of the pancreas, followed by a very complex reconstruction of the digestive tract, all with minimally invasive techniques. Sacred Heart is one of few hospitals in the world to offer patients this procedure.
  • Smart Operating Rooms.  Smart ORs are surgical suites equipped with advanced technology that helps surgeons do their best work, including minimally invasive surgery.
  • Body radiosurgery. This technique uses highly focused beams of radiation to remove tumors that might otherwise be inoperable.
  • The latest chemotherapy medications.
  • Breakthrough treatments available only through clinical trials.

Treatment Locations

Most or all of the care you will need to diagnose and treat colorectal cancer is available on the RiverBend medical campus from Sacred Heart and its partners in cancer care.

  • Surgery and certain inpatient and outpatient treatments are provided at Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend.
  • Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are provided to outpatients at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute and Research Center, which has offices at RiverBend and on Country Club Road in Eugene. Chemotherapy is also available in the Regional Infusion Center at Sacred Heart, University District.
  • Imaging (radiology) is provided to outpatients at Oregon Imaging Centers, which has offices on the RiverBend campus and throughout Eugene and Springfield.