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Navigating Gastrointestinal Cancer

Navigating a gastrointestinal (GI) cancer diagnosis and treatment can feel overwhelming, especially in the beginning. At the Abramson Cancer Center, our team is here to support you at every step. Multiple GI cancer specialists, nurse navigators and support professionals work as one to coordinate services and make your life easier throughout cancer treatment.

How We Help You Navigate GI Cancer at the Abramson Cancer Center

At Penn Medicine, we are committed to providing patients the best possible care. One way we do that is by helping you navigate the treatment process. Here’s what to expect when you choose the Abramson Cancer Center for GI cancer care.

Our Nurse Navigators Support You After Diagnosis

Being diagnosed with GI cancer can be stressful and overwhelming. Our specially trained GI oncology nurse and patient navigators are usually the first to speak with new patients. Their primary job is supporting and guiding you.

Because our patient navigators have a deep understanding of GI cancers (it’s all they do), they get you in front of the right specialist, without wasting time. They explain your diagnosis in a way you can understand, and they act as a compassionate sounding board when you are stressed or uncertain.

From the start, our navigators help you:

  • Schedule appointments, coordinating services to save you time and speed treatment
  • Get connected with community or online resources to help you better understand your diagnosis and how it may affect your health
  • Weigh your treatment options, to help you make informed decisions
  • Problem-solve challenges to care, such as difficulty finding transportation to your appointments
  • Prepare for what’s ahead, such as upcoming surgery or possible treatment side effects

Many Experts Collaborate on Your Treatment Plan

GI cancers can affect any organ in the digestive system. How a GI cancer diagnosis affects you will be as unique as your journey through the cancer treatment process. You can count on us to provide:

  • Leading expertise for all GI cancer types: Many of our fellowship-trained specialists are leaders on the national and world stage. We expertly treat all GI cancer types, including rare neuroendocrine tumors and advanced disease. We consistently set high standards for safety, effectiveness and quality care. Meet our GI cancer specialists.
  • Coordinated approach: It’s common to meet with several different cancer specialists who collaborate on your care. We make extra efforts to coordinate services so you can get the care you need in fewer visits. It’s sometimes possible to see multiple specialists on the same day, sometimes even in the same clinic room.
  • Team mindset: One of the key strengths of Penn’s GI cancer program is our intensive level of teamwork. Our doctors are in close contact almost daily to carefully weigh your treatment options and choose the best next steps. Medical oncologists tend to be the “quarterback” of cancer care, following you long-term and coordinating your care.

How We Support You During Cancer Treatment

GI cancer treatment often includes a combination of surgery, cancer-fighting drugs and radiation therapy. Some therapies may require daily treatment sessions that last weeks. We help build you up when cancer treatment starts to take a toll on your physical or mental health.

You can trust us to provide:

  • Compassion: We care deeply for our patients and get to know you well. Our doctors factor your lifestyle, goals and values into treatment recommendations and help you access innovative cancer therapies.
  • Wide-ranging support services: From managing treatment side effects to navigating insurance or financial hurdles, our patient and family support services focus on your well-being during cancer treatment. We help you meet any cancer-related hardships head-on, so you can enjoy more of life on your terms. Read more about GI cancer support services.
  • Prompt answers: You have direct access to the entire treatment team through an easy-to-navigate patient portal. We respond quickly to your concerns to avoid needless worry or anxiety.
  • Comfortable infusion suites: At the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and at Penn Medicine Radnor, you can receive medical oncology infusions in a private room. Oncology-trained nurses and other specialists (like onco-pharmacologists) are on hand to answer questions and take excellent care of you.

Expert Follow-Up Care, With Convenience

You can consider us partners in your health, even after treatment ends. Our follow-up care offers:

  • Personalized guidance: A member of our team specialized in the long-term health needs of GI cancer patients provides one-on-one support, tailoring a follow-up plan to your needs. We evaluate and offer solutions to help you manage uncomfortable cancer or treatment side effects. We can also offer advice on healthy lifestyle decisions.
  • Convenience: We monitor your health over time and identify any issues that may need attention. We coordinate visits to minimize disruptions in your day.
  • Assistance for long-term radiation effects: We offer a special program tailored to GI cancer patients who have had radiation therapy. We identify and help you manage any long-term radiation side effects such as bladder or bowel problems.

Learn More About GI Cancer Support Services

Learn more about Penn’s oncology nurse and patient navigators. You can also call 215-615-5858 to speak with one of our GI cancer experts or request an appointment using our online form.