Understanding upper gastrointestinal cancers

Stomach cancers also called upper gastrointestinal (UGI) cancers happen in the organs that are found in the upper section of the digestive system. The UGI organs of the digestive system (how we eat and process food) include:

  • Oesophagus – the tube or pipe food travels down from the mouth into the stomach
  • Stomach – where chewed food meets gastrc juices and is further broken down (digested)
  • Pancreas – where enzymes that help digest food are made as well as hormones such as insulin
  • Liver – which has many jobs such as making bile (fluid) that helps break down fats in food, store sugars that bodies need as fuel, and helps process alcohol, medicines and some poisons to remove them from the body.
  • Gall bladder – a small organ next to the liver that helps make and store bile that is used for the breakdown of food.
  • Small intestine – where digested food from the stomach travels to and is further processed with the help of enzymes from the pancreas and bile from the liver. This intestine is where most of the nutrients from the food are absorbed and taken to the bloodstream for use.

Focusing on you

Placing you at the centre of our work, your UGI specialist will determine where you cancer started and how far it has progressed.

A UGI cancer can happen in any organ of the upper digestive system. A UGI cancer happens when the cells in the tissue of any of these organs start to grow abnormally and out of control. These cancerous cells affect how the organ works and can also spread to other body parts and systems.

Enhancing your care

At Peter Mac, we provide the most up-to-date diagnostics (tests) and treatment for UGI cancers.

Our UGI cancer specialists will come together and work with you to assess your condition and plan and deliver the most effective treatment.

Your care plan will be custom-made to treat your specific UGI cancer and the needs most important to you.


We know how hard cancer and treatment can be. Your lifestyle and that of your loved one's will be disrupted and changed. During this time, it is common to struggle with ongoing concerns about cancer and therapy. There are many expert groups available to provide information and support you through this time, including:


At Peter Mac, we focus on all aspects of your health and wellbeing. Our lower gastrointestinal experts will help support and guide you to the best information and managed care.

Our specialist nurses can refer you to our:


For more information about upper gastrointestinal cancers, their treatment and support for patients and families, download copies of the following resources: 


Your needs come first, so we offer expert care across a number of different Upper Gastrointestinal diseases including:

Oesophageal cancer
Gall bladder and bile duct cancer
Gastric cancer
Gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GIST)
Hepatocellular carcinoma
Liver metastases
Malignant liver tumours
Neuro-endocrine tumours
Small intestine cancers
Pancreatic cancer
Benign and incidental liver tumours
Incidental pancreatic cystic tumours