What you need to know

It is recommended that you:

  • See a specialist who is a member of a multidisciplinary team. You can ask your GP to refer you.
  • All specialists listed on Canrefer are members of a multidisciplinary team.

What is upper gastrointestinal cancer?

Upper gastrointestinal cancer is cancer that occurs in any part of the upper gastrointestinal tract. This can include the oesophagus, stomach (gastric), pancreas, liver, small intestine, bile duct or gall bladder.

An upper gastrointestinal cancer starts when cells in the upper gastrointestinal tract become abnormal. These cells divide and grow to form a cancer. The cancer is named after the body part it started from. For example, stomach cancer is the name for cancer starting in the stomach.

Graphic of a human body highlighting the stomach and oesophagus

Who do I see for diagnosis and treatment of my upper gastrointestinal cancer?

If your GP suspects you have an upper gastrointestinal cancer, they will refer you to a specialist.

The specialist should:

  • Have experience in treating upper gastrointestinal cancer.
  • Be an active member of a multidisciplinary team.

All the specialists listed on Canrefer are members of a multidisciplinary team.

Why are multidisciplinary teams important?

A multidisciplinary team is a team of doctors, nurses and other health professionals. Team members meet regularly to discuss their patients. They plan treatment for new cancer patients and review treatment for existing patients.

Multidisciplinary teams are important. Team members work together to decide the best treatments for patients.

You can ask your GP to refer you to a specialist who is part of a multidisciplinary team. Talk to your GP about this.

All specialists on Canrefer are members of a multidisciplinary team.

What tests do I need?

You may have some of the tests listed below to diagnose an upper gastrointestinal cancer. The most common tests are:

  • Physical examination
  • Blood tests
  • Endoscopy
  • Laparoscopy
  • Biopsy
  • Imaging - ultrasound, X-ray, CT scan, MRI scan and/or PET scan

What treatment will I have?

Treatments for an upper gastrointestinal cancer may include one or all types of these cancer treatments:

  • surgery
  • chemotherapy
  • targeted therapy
  • radiotherapy

Where will I have treatment?

If treatment for your upper gastrointestinal cancer is specialised and complex, you may need to travel to have a part of your treatment. Your Local Health District will have an arrangement in place for this.

You may be able to have parts of your treatment closer to home. Please discuss this with your treating specialist.

Travel assistance for rural patients

If you live in a rural area and need help to travel for your treatment visit NSW Government IPTAAS for more information.

How common is upper gastrointestinal cancer in NSW?

Upper gastrointestinal cancer was diagnosed in:

  • 3161
    People in NSW in 2012
  • 3213
    People in NSW in 2011
  • 3082
    People in NSW in 2010

Data source: Annual NSW cancer incidence and mortality dataset, 2012 (sourced from the NSW Cancer Registry)

Cancer information and support

Speak to a specialist health professional about anything to do with cancer.

Phone 13 11 20.

Cancer Council NSW
Questions for your specialist

Find out some key questions to ask your specialist at your first appointment.

Questions you can ask
Booklet about stomach cancer

Understanding Stomach and Oesophageal Cancers is a booklet for people with cancer, their families and friends. 

Cancer Council NSW
Booklet about pancreatic cancer

Understanding Pancreatic Cancer is a booklet for people with cancer, their families and friends. 

Cancer Council NSW
Booklet about liver cancer

Understanding Cancer in the Liver is a booklet for people with cancer, their families and friends. 

Cancer Council NSW