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Gastrointestinal Cancer Causes

Scientists have not yet identified causes of gastrointestinal cancer, although a combination of genetic and environmental factors seem to play a role in the onset of the disease. Gastrointestinal cancer is also a term that refers to many different types of cancer that can occur in the gastrointestinal tract, and each type of cancer has its own individual risk factors.

It should also be noted that the presence of risk factors do not definitively mean that a person will be diagnosed with a type of gastrointestinal cancer. Rather, these causes and risk factors mean that the possibility of developing cancer may be higher.

General risk factors include:

  • Age – The risk of developing pancreatic, esophageal, and colon cancer increases as people age. In fact, nine out of 10 people diagnosed with colorectal cancer are at least 50 years old, according to the American Cancer Society.
  • Racial and ethnic background – African Americans have the highest colorectal cancer incidence and mortality rates. Stomach cancer is most common among Hispanic Americans, African Americans, and Asian/Pacific Islanders in the U.S.
  • Gender – Stomach and esophageal cancer is more common in men than women, whereas gallbladder cancer occurs twice as often in women than men.
  • Past medical history – People who are diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, are at a heightened risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Tampa General Hospital is fully equipped to treat all types of gastrointestinal cancer. We take a team approach to cancer treatment, as we have a group of physicians and cancer specialists that meet every other week in person to discuss treatment options for each patient in order to determine the best course of action. For a physician referral, please use our PhysicianFinder tool or call (813) 844-2200.