Our Upper GI (UGI) Department specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of all Upper GI (oesophagus, stomach, upper intestine and associated organs) disorders, including cancer.

We are a specialist centre and a tertiary referral unit for Upper GI cancer and complex benign Upper GI conditions, with referrals from all hospitals in Cheshire and Merseyside, Isle of Man and North Wales. 

The service leads the Regional Upper GI Multidisciplinary Cancer Network, and we work in close collaboration with Clatterbridge Centre for Oncology. 

There are several upper gastrointestinal cancers that we provide care for: 

  • Oesophageal cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Small bowel cancer
  • Gastro-Intestinal Stromal Tumours (GISTs)
  • Neuroendocrine tumours.

If you have a diagnosis of cancer, you will meet various members of our large, Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) as we support you on your care journey through from first symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and beyond. 

Whilst all surgical treatment of Upper GI cancers is carried out at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, investigations for your cancer or non-surgical treatment may be carried out at Aintree University Hospital, Broadgreen Hospital, the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, or your local hospital in Cheshire and Merseyside.

Referral and tests

When we receive a referral from your GP or another hospital, we will arrange a clinic appointment or any tests (investigations) - these may be in the Endoscopy, Radiology or Pathology (blood) departments. 

If tissue samples (biopsies) have been taken during your tests, these will be looked at in the lab and if there is anything of concern, your specialist may refer you to a cancer nurse specialist (CNS). 

Your CNS will support you through any further investigations and treatment if necessary. Being referred to a CNS does not in itself mean that you have cancer. Unless you are told you have cancer, do not presume that you have a cancer diagnosis. 

Next steps

If after your investigations, there are no concerns about your symptoms and investigations, we will refer you back to your GP, who will continue with your care.

If we do find that you have cancer, next steps for your care will be discussed in a MDT meeting, where all the specialists who might need to be involved in your care will discuss the best possible treatment plan for you. 

You will be contacted soon after this meeting by one of our CNSs or other specialists, to discuss your results and possible treatment options.

Treatment for UGI cancers can include:

  • Endoscopic intervention (where the problem is treated during an endoscopy)
  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiotherapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Other medical intervention, e.g. taking tablets to slow the growth of a tumour
  • Treatments focused on managing symptoms e.g. a stent to improve swallowing
  • Or any combination of the above.

More information

Patients can be referred to Upper GI via: 

  • Primary care (GPs)
  • Following a hospital admission
  • From other specialist doctors within the hospital. 

In addition to this, we receive referrals from other NHS services around the region, as we are a specialist service for Cheshire and Merseyside (including North Wales and the Isle of Man).