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Gastrointestinal Cancers Program

Each year, nearly 300,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with a type of gastrointestinal cancer. Many of these cancers are too complex or difficult to be treated with just one type of treatment. The Gastrointestinal Cancers Program at Smilow Cancer Hospital provide patients with gastrointestinal cancers a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to the treatment of complex disease.

As experts in the treatment of cancers of the esophagus, stomach, liver, pancreas, colon, bile ducts, rectum, and anus, we collaborate with diagnostic and interventional radiologists, gastroenterologists, and pathologists to provide the most up-to-date and effective treatments available. Our advanced diagnostic imaging services, including Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), MRI/MRCP (ERCP in conjunction with MRI), high-resolution CT scans, Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS), and EUS-guided fine needle aspiration, allow for patients to be comprehensively evaluated at the onset of their diagnosis.

Our Approach

Surgical Oncology

Surgery is commonly used to effectively manage certain types of gastrointestinal cancers, including malignant and premalignant tumors in the stomach, liver, bile ducts, pancreas, small intestine, and colorectum. Our team of surgeons incorporate a variety of state-of-the-art surgical techniques into procedures when necessary. These include:

  • Laparoscopic and robotic surgery for stomach, small bowel, and colorectal tumors, as well as for primary and metastatic liver tumors and biliary tumors
  • Cytoreduction and heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy
  • Pancreatectomy (Whipple procedure, distal pancreatectomy, total pancreatectomy, central pancreatectomy, pancreas preserving enucleation)


Medical Oncology

In addition to chemotherapy, our medical oncology experts provide innovative nonsurgical treatment options including:

  • Targeted Therapy, in which a special type of chemotherapy targets the changes in cancer cells that help them grow, divide, and spread
  • Immunotherapy, which uses a patient’s own immune system to find and destroy cancer cells

Yale Cancer Center emphasizes the importance of clinical trials for all stages of disease. Many of these drugs are exploring new types of therapy and new combinations of therapies, and many of our studies are available as part of our network of Care Centers. We perform state-of-the-art genomic profiling and laboratory explorations to determine the biologic weaknesses of the tumors and to develop better therapies for patients.

Radiation Oncology

Patients who need radiation oncology to treat their gastrointestinal cancers can feel confident that they are receiving the highest quality care from the most experienced team of radiation oncologists in Connecticut. We offer innovative therapies including:

  • Three-dimensional Conformal Radiation: This technique may be used to target radiation to tumors by matching their particular shapes.
  • Four-dimensional (4-D) CT simulation makes CT scans faster and more accurate. 4D CT captures the location and movement of tumors and the movement of surrounding organs over time, allowing for more accurate treatment. 
  • Stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) is a noninvasive technique used to provide extremely high doses of radiation with a high level of accuracy, resulting in less radiation delivered to surrounding tissue and fewer side effects.


Genetic Counseling and Testing

Genetic counselors, nurse practitioners, and physicians collaborate to create highly personalized care plans for patients. For patients found to be at increased risk for colon cancer, the Colon Cancer Genetics and Prevention Program provides comprehensive risk assessment, education, and screening. A strong family history of colorectal or gastric cancer, an inherited mutation, or a significant history of colon polyps may increase risk.

Our Specialties

The Gastrointestinal Cancers Program includes several specialty services, including an Advanced Endoscopy Team focused on diseases of the pancreas, biliary tree, and the gastrointestinal tract. Patients with a variety of symptoms and diseases are evaluated and monitored, including those with pancreatitis, biliary strictures and stones, post-cholecystectomy complications, unexplained abdominal pain, and suspected gastrointestinal malignancies.

Through our Interventional Oncology Program, patients receive cutting-edge care, including image-guided therapies for patients with liver and colorectal cancers. In addition, the program provides a range of therapeutic options for palliative care, including biopsy, vascular port, and chemotherapy catheter placement, as well as various therapies for pain relief.

Pancreatic Cancer Team

Pancreatic cancer is a devastating diagnosis that affects more than 55,000 people in the United States each year. Our expert team provides specialized care, incorporating recent advances and innovative new treatment options that have led to a more promising outlook. 

Advanced Endoscopy

The Advanced Endoscopy Team at Smilow Cancer Hospital focuses on diseases of the pancreas, biliary tree, and the gastrointestinal tract. Patients with a variety of symptoms and diseases are evaluated, including those with pancreatitis, biliary strictures and stones, post-cholecystectomy complications, unexplained abdominal pain, and suspected gastrointestinal malignancies.   

 

Neuroendocrine Tumors

Our program offers special expertise in these slow growing cancers of the gastrointestinal tract, which arise from neuroendocrine cells.

Outcomes

Yale Cancer Center and our partner, Smilow Cancer Hospital, acknowledge the seven American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) evidence-based quality guidelines for breast and colorectal cancers.

The latest performance data for colorectal cancer is listed here.