Gastrointestinal Cancer Risk Assessment Program

Gastrointestinal Cancer Risk Assessment Program

Don't Wait for GI Cancer Symptoms

Gastrointestinal cancers often develop without any symptoms and patients experience health problems only after the cancer reaches an advanced stage. It has been shown that GI cancers caught early lead to significantly better treatment outcomes.

At Loyola’s GI Cancer Risk Assessment Program, we can help find out if you have a genetic predisposition to GI cancers.

If you have a genetic predisposition to GI cancers, we will closely monitor you through regular doctors’ visits and screenings such as colonoscopies or endoscopies. This kind of management allows for early detection and even cancer prevention, which can empower you to take control of your cancer risk.

The more we know about the cancer risk in your family, the better we can help you make informed decisions on how to manage the risk and potential problems for you and your parents, siblings, children or even extended family.

The Loyola difference

Loyola has one of the few medical programs in the Chicago area that offer this comprehensive evaluation of your gastrointestinal cancer risk, a chance to see members of a specialized multidisciplinary group in a single visit, and development of a personalized plan of care tailored to you. This approach to patient-focused care has helped the gastrointestinal & GI surgery services at Loyola University Medical Center be ranked among the top 25 programs in the country by U.S. News & World Report's 2021-22 Best Hospitals list.


What to Expect at Your Visit

When you come to your scheduled appointment in the GI Cancer Risk Assessment Clinic at the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, we begin with a comprehensive medical evaluation and a review of your medical and family history. Then our multidisciplinary team – which includes a nurse, oncologist, gastroenterologist, colorectal surgeon and genetic counselor – will review the findings in detail. Next, we will discuss our recommendations with you and, if indicated, assist with scheduling a colonoscopy, endoscopy, another diagnostic test, or even surgery.

Our team uses a comprehensive family history and genetic testing to identify many of the inherited syndromes that put people at increased risk for developing GI cancers. If the genetic tests are appropriate to the patient, most insurance policies cover the cost.

If we identify a gene linked to Lynch Syndrome, Familial Adenomatous Polyposis or one of the other inherited GI cancer syndromes, you can share this information with members of your immediate and extended family so that they too can learn their risk and best course of action.

Know Your Risks

Some types of gastrointestinal (GI) cancer have been found to run in families. These include some colorectal cancers and many cancers of the stomachurinary tractkidney and pancreas. The American Cancer Society says that 5 percent of all colorectal cancers are due to well-known changes in certain genes, modifications that can be passed down from generation to generation. If you have a relative who has been diagnosed with colorectal cancer at a young age or you have a family history of related malignancies, you may have a higher risk of developing the disease.

If you are concerned about GI cancer in your family, we can help you schedule a screening like a colonoscopy. This helps us to find colon polyps, which can turn into colon cancer. You might be at an increased risk for developing a GI cancer if you or a family member has been diagnosed with:

  • Colorectal cancer diagnosed before the age of 50
  • Ten or more adenomatous colon polyps, at once or across the lifetime
  • Known or suspected inherited colorectal cancer syndrome such as Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP), Lynch Syndrome, MYH-Associated Polyposis, Familial Colorectal Cancer Syndrome X or other polyposis syndrome
  • Multiple colorectal cancers at once or over time

At Loyola’s GI Cancer Risk Assessment Program, we can perform a complete evaluation to determine if you or your blood relatives may be at increased risk for the development of colorectal and other hereditary GI cancers. We also can assist patients in managing this risk. Working in a multidisciplinary fashion, we can develop a comprehensive strategy to help people with a family history of gastrointestinal (GI) cancers to make informed decisions about their health.