Gastrointestinal Cancer Treatment Center
The specialists in the Center for Gastrointestinal Oncology are experienced in all types of gastrointestinal cancer, including colon, pancreatic, stomach, and liver cancer. We offer the latest in clinical care and a wide range of resources — from nutritional advice to integrative therapies — to support you throughout treatment.
About this Program
At the Center for Gastrointestinal Oncology, we understand that every patient is unique. We work closely with you to offer a tailored, personalized therapy plan that takes your individual needs into account.
Our team of specialists includes medical oncologists, surgeons, and radiation oncologists who focus exclusively on gastrointestinal cancers, including colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, stomach cancer, liver cancer, neuroendocrine cancer, and esophageal cancer.
Our new Center for Esophageal and Gastric Cancer brings together a multi-disciplinary team dedicated to improving the way esophageal and gastric cancers are diagnosed and treated.
We offer the most advanced treatments for gastrointestinal cancers, including access to clinical trials.
We understand that cancer treatment can be challenging both physically and emotionally. Our patients, and their families, have access to a range of support services, including nutrition counseling, support groups, and integrative (or complementary) therapies such as acupuncture and Reiki.
If you have a family history of gastrointestinal cancer, such as colon, stomach, pancreatic or esophageal cancer, you can meet with our genetic counselors for an in-depth risk assessment, including a detailed family lineage analysis, genetic evaluation using state-of-the-art molecular tests, and tailored cancer screening and prevention recommendations.
The gastrointestinal cancers we treat include:
- Anal cancer
- Bile duct cancer
- Colon cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Gallbladder cancer
- Gastrointestinal carcinoid tumor
- Primary liver cancer
- Pancreatic islet cell cancer
- Small intestine cancer
- Stomach/gastric cancer
- Stomach carcinoid tumor
- Duodenal cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Rectal cancer
- Gastroesophageal (GE) junction cancer
- Islet cell cancer
- Liver (hepatoma) cancer
- Psuedomyxoma peritonei
- Small bowel cancer
- Cancer of unknown primary
Our Treatment Approach
We view every patient as an individual, with unique needs and expectations. This understanding guides us in creating a treatment plan that takes your lifestyle and goals into account.
As a new patient, you'll have your tumors tested for molecular alterations, the results of which will help form the basis of your therapy.
Our scientists head a variety of local and international research studies investigating the molecular makeup of colorectal, esophageal, stomach, neuroendocrine, and other gastrointestinal cancers. This allows us to offer a range of innovative clinical trials that may benefit patients today and in the future.
In addition to offering the latest in clinical care, we provide a wide range of resources — from support groups to nutritional advice to integrative therapies — to support you physically and emotionally throughout your treatment.
We believe that there is more to caring for you than just treating your diagnosis. With that in mind, we offer a comprehensive range of services. These include:
- individual and family counseling by social workers, psychologists, or psychiatrists; religious and spiritual counseling by clergy representing all faiths
- counseling to help you talk with your children about cancer and identify ways to help your children cope
- rehabilitation and physical therapy
- nutrition counseling
- palliative care and pain management
- integrative therapies (including massage and Reiki) through the Zakim Center
- educational programs and support groups
- a clinician-staffed resource center providing access to the latest information about cancer.
Given the individual approach necessary to treating your gastrointestinal cancer, your treatment team may include a variety of specialists who can address your specific needs.
Shilpa Grover, MD, MPH
Sapna Syngal, MD, MPH
Thomas Abrams, MD
Adam Bass, MD
Pankaj Bhargava, MD, MBBS
Gabriel A. Brooks, MD
Jennifer Ang Chan, MD, MPH
James Cleary, MD, PhD
Andrea Enzinger, MD
Peter Enzinger, MD
Wendy Garrett, MD, PhD
Wolfram Goessling, MD, PhD
Nadine J. McCleary, MD, MPH
Matthew Kulke, MD
Robert Mayer, MD
Jeffrey Meyerhardt, MD, MPH
Kimmie Ng, MD, MPH
Douglas Rubinson, MD, PhD
Deborah Schrag, MD, MPH
Ramesh Shivdasani, MD, PhD
Brian Wolpin, MD
Matthew Yurgelun, MD
Mike Casey, NP, MSN, APRN
Nina Grenon, RN, APRN, BC
Karen Sommer, NP, MSN, APN-BC
Robin Sommers, DNP, ANP-BC, AOCNP
Eileen Regan, RN, BCN, ONC
Maria Shellock, RN
Chistine Lilienfeld, RN, BSN, ONC
Patricia Rizzo, RN, BSN
Jessica Williamson, RN, BSN, OCN
Rachel Allende, LICSW (for Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking patients)
Jane Bausch, LICSW
Susan Englander, MSW, LICSW
Bruce MacDonald, MSW, LICSW
Sara Nemitz, MSW, LICSW (for inpatients staying at Brigham and Women's Hospital)
We believe an active clinical research program is vital for providing outstanding care. Our physician-scientists conduct clinical trials to build a precise understanding of how cancer develops and how it can be treated. That research, in turn, informs our approach to your individual treatment needs.
Among other research initiatives, we are studying risk factors for diseases such as colon cancer, stomach cancer, and pancreatic cancer, using information on the diet, lifestyles, and medical histories of more than 170,000 men and women.
We are also collecting blood samples and tumor specimens, which allows us to look at molecular and genetic alterations that may signal a risk factor for particular cancers.
Studying the tumors will help us better understand how normal cells become cancer cells and how we can create better drugs to delay or prevent these changes.
We are also constantly conducting clinical trials to develop new treatments for patients with gastrointestinal cancers. These trials will help us define more effective therapies for patients now and in the future.
Our recent breakthroughs in gastrointestinal cancer research include these discoveries:
- Aspirin may improve survival in patients who have already been diagnosed with colorectal cancers. Study results indicated that colorectal cancer patients who regularly took aspirin after diagnosis had a nearly 30 percent lower risk of dying of their disease during the first decade after diagnosis than did non-aspirin users.
- A family history of colon or rectal cancer doubles one's risk for the disease, but improves the odds of survival should the cancer develop. Researchers believe biological factors are the reason for this anomaly, and are now examining hundreds of colorectal tumor samples for common genetic changes that might explain the behavior and aid in the development of better treatments.
- Patients diagnosed with colon cancer who had abundant vitamin D in their blood have better survival rates than those who were deficient in the vitamin. Previous research had shown that higher levels of vitamin D reduce the risk of developing colon and rectal cancer by about 50 percent, but the effect on outcomes wasn't known. Recent data also show that patients with stage IV colon and rectal cancer have very low levels of vitamin D. Researchers are now planning a clinical trial in which these stage IV colon and rectal cancer patients will take vitamin D along with standard chemotherapy to look for benefits.
If you have never been seen before at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center, please call 877-442-3324 or use this online form to make an appointment.
If you are a current patient, please call the center's main number at 617-632-4500.
If you believe you are at risk for a gastrointestinal cancer, and wish to schedule an appointment in the Risk and Prevention Clinic, call 617-632-2178.
Center for Gastrointestinal Oncology
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
450 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215