What are Gastrointestinal (GI) Cancers?

Gastrointestinal (GI) cancer is a term for the group of cancers that affect the digestive system. This includes:

  • Stomach (gastric) cancer
  • Bowel (colorectal) cancer
  • Oesophageal cancer
  • Anal cancer
  • GI neuroendocrine tumours
  • Small intestine cancer

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK. There are around 41,700 new bowel cancer cases in the UK every year, that’s more than 110 every day.

Diagram of bowels

What are Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary (HPB) Cancers?

Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary (HPB) cancer is a term for the group of cancers that affect the liver, pancreas and biliary system. These include:

  • Primary liver cancer (cancer that starts in the liver)
  • Secondary liver cancer (metastatic cancer; cancer which started in another part of the body and has spread to the liver)
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Bile duct cancer (cholangiocarcinoma)
  • GI neuroendocrine tumours
  • Gall bladder cancer

Pancreatic cancer is the 11th most common cancer in the UK, accounting for 3% of all new cancer cases. There are around 9,800 new pancreatic cancer cases in the UK every year, that’s 27 every day. Approximately 80% of patients are inoperable at presentation. Of the remaining 20% only a quarter (i.e. 5% of the total) will be long-term survivors.

At least a third of patients who develop bowel cancer go on to develop secondary liver cancer. This means that each day, 40 people somewhere in the UK will be diagnosed with secondary liver cancer arising from the large intestine.

Why do BRIGHT support GI and HPB Cancers?

As our statistics have shown, there are many people diagnosed with GI and HPB cancers every year.

What we know is that cancers of the GI tract often spread through the body. This spread is often referred to as ‘metastatic’ or ‘secondary’ cancer. When cancer cells break away from the primary tumour in the GI tract (cancer starting in the GI tract), they can travel around in the blood stream or in lymph fluid.

We know that it is common for GI cancers and in particular colon and rectal cancer to spread to the liver. This is  because blood from the intestines drains directly through  the liver and cancer cells seed into the liver.