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Gastrointestinal Cancers

Cover of brochure with patient image
The Gastrointestinal Cancers Program at Smilow Cancer Hospital provides patients with gastrointestinal cancers a truly multidisciplinary approach to the treatment of their complex disease. Our physicians and caregivers have special expertise in the treatment of cancers of the esophagus, stomach, liver, pancreas, colon, bile ducts, rectum, and anus. Utilizing a multidisciplinary tumor board, our physicians consult together to develop a comprehensive, concise treatment plan for each patient.

Our physicians collaborate with diagnostic and interventional radiologists, gastroenterologists, and pathologists to provide the most expert care available. Our diagnostic imaging services, including Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), MRI/MRCP, and high-resolution CT scans,
Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS), and EUS-guided fine needle aspiration, allow for patients to be properly evaluated at the onset of their diagnosis.

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. Within our multidisciplinary Gastrointestinal Cancers Program, our physicians are dedicated to providing the most up-to-date and effective care to gastrointestinal cancer patients in Connecticut and beyond, advancing the nation’s understanding of cancer, and improving diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. Clinical trials are often available for patients who are newly diagnosed or who are not responding to their current treatment.

Surgical Oncology

Surgery is used in the management of several types of gastrointestinal cancers, including malignant and premalignant tumors arising in the stomach, liver, bile ducts, pancreas, small intestine, and colorectum.

It may be necessary to see a thoracic surgeon in the treatment of certain tumors arising in the esophagus. Our surgical outcomes are among the top tier in the United States, including low surgical morbidity, short hospital length of stay, and excellent cancer outcomes. Our team of surgeons is dedicated to providing the best oncologic surgery, while integrating state-of-the-art surgical techniques and minimally invasive procedures when possible. These include:

  • Laparoscopic and robotic surgery: Performed 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): These are complex operations to remove the head of the pancreas (Whipple) and the laparoscopic distal pancreatectomy, often done laparoscopically, is used for tumors of the pancreatic body and tail. Our surgeons have over 30 years of experience in pancreatic surgery and are among the highest volume centers for pancreatic surgery both in Connecticut and the United States.

Medical Oncology

Our medical oncology team provides experience and knowledge of innovative treatment options and investigational therapies. Treatment plans include chemotherapy, targeted biologic therapies, and immunotherapy. Clinical trials investigating immunotherapy, combinations, and molecular targeted
therapies are also available.
  • Targeted Therapy: A special type of chemotherapy that targets the changes in cancer cells that help them grow, divide, and spread.
  • Immunotherapy: Using one’s own immune system to fi nd and destroy cancer cells.
Yale Cancer Center emphasizes the importance of clinical trials and continually strives to provide our patients with the most current therapies. In close collaboration with basic scientists, clinical research is focused on developing innovative strategies to help eliminate, control, and palliate tumors in patients. We perform state-of-the-art genomic profiling and laboratory explorations to determine the biologic weaknesses of the tumors and to develop better therapies. Clinical trial participation is appropriate 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.

Radiation Oncology

Patients who are cared for through the Gastrointestinal Cancers Program at Smilow Cancer Hospital and need radiation oncology as a component of their prescribed treatment can feel confident that they are receiving the highest quality care from the most experienced team of radiation oncologists in Connecticut.
  • Three-dimensional Conformal Radiation: Based on the shape and location of your tumor, this technique may be used to target radiation to your tumor, by matching the shape of your tumor.
  • Four-dimensional CT simulation: This imaging technique makes CT scans faster and more accurate. 4D CT uses a new technology that captures the location and movement of your tumor and the movement of your body’s organs over time to more accurately treat your tumor.
  • Stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT): A non-invasive 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

Our multidisciplinary expert team of genetic counselors, nurse practitioners, and physicians will work together with you to create a personalized care plan. The Colon Cancer Genetics and Prevention Program provides comprehensive risk assessment, education, and screening for patients found to be at
increased risk of colon cancer. Individuals with a strong family history of colorectal or gastric cancer, a genetic predisposition such as an inherited mutation in Lynch Syndrome or other colon cancer-related genes, and a significant history of colon polyps may be at risk.

Specialties

The Gastrointestinal Cancers Program includes several specialty services, including an Advanced Endoscopy Team at Smilow Cancer Hospital 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.

Our Interventional Oncology Program offers cutting edge specialized services to patients at Smilow. A team of dedicated and committed professionals with the highest level of expertise in interventional oncology offer image-guided therapies for patients with liver and colorectal cancers. In addition,
Interventional Oncology provides a range of therapeutic options used for palliative care including biopsy, vascular port, and chemotherapy catheter placement, and various therapies for pain relief.

Contact Us

For more information or to schedule an appointment with the Gastrointestinal Cancers Program, please call