Multidisciplinary Research in Gastrointestinal Cancer
Gastrointestinal cancer ranks second only to respiratory cancer in the number of new cases and annual deaths in the United States each year. The term gastrointestinal cancer refers to malignant conditions of the esophagus, stomach, liver, biliary system, pancreas, small bowel, large bowel (i.e., colon and rectum), and anus.The Center for Gastrointestinal Oncology, directed by Dr. Mayer, is a multidisciplinary program to study this group of diseases. Our efforts include the identification and counseling of families at high risk of developing such disorders, the study of medical interventions to prevent the diseases, screening techniques to detect them at a preclinical stage, and the development of innovative treatment plans for diagnosed patients. Such efforts involve the participation of medical, radiation, and surgical oncologists, pathologists, gastroenterologists, social workers, and genetic counselors.The Gastrointestinal Cancer Committee of the Cancer and Leukemia Group B, chaired by Dr. Mayer, is a multi-institutional collaboration supported by the National Cancer Institute. This research organization designs clinical trials conducted at DFCI and elsewhere throughout the United States.We also work regularly with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to examine experimental forms of therapy. Clinical trials are available for patients with each of the malignant conditions that gastrointestinal cancer comprises.Our work has been instrumental in studies which have defined optimal post-surgical (i.e., adjuvant) treatment for colon and rectal cancer and newer approaches to localized and advanced pancreatic cancer. In addition, Dr. Mayer has brought such new compounds as cetuximab to Dana-Farber for clinical testing.