Advanced cancer care to heal the whole person

GI - Colorectal Cancer Center of Excellence

Our Gastrointestinal-Colorectal Center of Excellence offers patients extensive screening, diagnostic and treatment options for GI- Colorectal cancers. Advanced technologies combined with extensive holistic support services helps patients in treatment for colorectal cancers. Using advanced scoping technologies and a multidisciplinary approach that emphasizes patient comfort and respect, CHI Memorial ensures that our patients receive the most advanced treatment options.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Using the endoscope - a thin, flexible viewing instrument - our specialists can check the upper and lower portions of the GI tract. Common treatments include the removal of polyps, measures to stop bleeding and biopsies of tissue for examination by a pathologist.

Regular colonoscopies - an internal examination of the colon - beginning at age 50 can prevent colon cancer in many cases. If cancer is identified, cases are reviewed during regularly scheduled tumor conferences in order to determine the best plan for treatment. You benefit from the experience of multiple medical disciplines and extensive expertise.

For other conditions, a procedure known as an ERCP can be done to examine the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts and pancreatic ducts. When a blockage occurs, such as gallstones, it can be cleared and a stent inserted to help prevent recurrence. Other endoscopy services include the bronchoscopy to examine lung tissue for cancer and other diseases, and rectal ultrasound.


Surgeons at CHI Memorial are utilizing superior imaging technology to perform minimally-invasive (or laparoscopic) surgeries for the treatment of colorectal cancers. The latest fluoroscopy unit gives physicians excellent live views of the size, shape, movement and function of a patient’s internal organs. It also provides a high degree of flexibility for the patient’s comfort. Benefits to the patient include less pain, a smaller scar and a faster return to activities and normal colon function.

Exceptional imaging capabilities expand the possibilities for looking inside your body without surgery. CHI Memorial offers 3T MRI technology, which uses a stronger magnet for better image quality. The use of endorectal ultrasound helps determine the extent of rectal cancers so that proper treatment can be determined. And for small intestine examinations, the Givens capsule, a pill with a camera inside that is swallowed, allows testing to be done while the patient is awake and mobile.

Nurse Navigation Program

Upon diagnosis, patients may choose to be paired with a nurse in our navigator program. This nurse will navigate the patient through treatment; providing education; acting as a liaison between patient and doctor when questions arise; offering resources for economic support; and providing comfort and assistance all the way through the discharge and recovery phase. Patients can receive a customized notebook for educational information.

For more information about the Nurse Navigator Program, please call (423) 495-7827.


CHI Memorial’s GI-Colorectal Center of Excellence is committed to treating the whole patient, not just the disease. After surgery, patients recover in a dedicated unit of the hospital staffed with specially trained, expert nurses who are dedicated to post-operative colorectal care.

Through our holistic approach, patients and their families have free access to chaplains, social workers, monthly support groups, and a peer-to-peer program that brings patients and survivors together for one-on-one counseling. If cancer is diagnosed, we offer an array of mind-body-spirit support.

In addition, genetic counseling is available for those with a family history of colorectal cancer or otogenetic risk factors. We want to answer your questions and address your physical and emotional needs - before, during and after your procedure. Whatever your diagnosis, we have medical professionals to assist you. For more information on support services, call (423) 495-7778.

Medical Director

Dr. Eric Nelson
Eric Nelson, MD, FACS, FASCRS

Colorectal Cancer Surgery Medical Director. Fellowship trained. Active participant in tumor boards. Active member of Center of Excellence Committee.