How We Treat Gastrointestinal Cancer

At NewYork-Presbyterian, you will receive comprehensive digestive cancer care based on the latest scientific breakthroughs. We offer the most advanced imaging and other diagnostic methods and a full range of therapies — all individualized to the site, stage, and molecular profile of your cancer. Our care includes novel treatments that may be difficult to find elsewhere. The care of patients with gastrointestinal malignancies is complex and requires specialized expertise across disciplines. NewYork-Presbyterian physicians routinely discuss cases in multidisciplinary tumor board meetings on a weekly basis to optimize the care of our patients across disciplines, taking into account all available approaches. As a result, you will receive the optimum personalized care for your cancer, commonly involving a team of physicians.

Minimally Invasive and Reconstructive Surgery

We use minimally invasive surgical approaches whenever appropriate — including laparoscopic and robotic surgery — resulting in smaller incisions, a shorter hospital stay, and a faster recovery. If you need a more extensive operation, our surgeons have the expertise to perform those procedures as well. We also offer reconstruction when appropriate, such as the creation of a J-pouch in patients with colorectal cancer who undergo removal of the large intestine. We are developing and testing the next wave of minimally invasive surgical procedures, including endoscopic techniques performed entirely inside the digestive tract and requiring no external incisions.

Advanced Interventional Techniques

Interventional radiologists specialize in minimally invasive, targeted treatments. They use image guidance to perform procedures that would otherwise be unavailable or would require open surgery. Interventional radiology, therefore, offers care with less risk, less pain, and less recovery time compared with traditional treatments. At NewYork-Presbyterian, our interventional radiologists and interventional endoscopists perform thousands of procedures each year. We have all of the necessary imaging and procedural facilities to offer the most comprehensive, cutting-edge interventional oncology care. Examples of interventional approaches for digestive cancers include:

  • Interventional biopsy to retrieve tissue for analysis without surgery.
  • Embolization to block flow in blood vessels feeding a tumor, such as liver tumors.
  • Ablation to destroy a tumor with radio waves, light-sensitive drugs, or extreme temperatures.
  • Interventional endoscopy to relieve obstructions, remove superficial tumors, and insert stents in a blocked bile duct or an esophagus narrowed by cancer.

The Latest Chemotherapy Drugs

You may receive chemotherapy alone or in combination with other therapies, such as radiation and surgery. We give intravenous chemotherapies in our warm, supportive infusion centers, where we can monitor your side effects and address your comfort.

  • Presurgical chemotherapy. Some patients receive chemotherapy before surgery to shrink the tumor. Your doctor will let you know if this is an option for you.
  • Chemotherapy after surgery. Many patients with digestive cancers receive anticancer drugs after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells. You may receive one drug or a combination of medications.
  • Targeted therapies. We treat some digestive cancers with targeted therapies, which work by shutting down certain proteins that cancer cells need to grow. Examples include trastuzumab for some stomach cancers, cetuximab, and bevacizumab for colorectal cancer, sorafenib for liver cancer, and erlotinib for pancreatic cancer.
  • Immunotherapy. These treatments harness the power of the immune system to fight cancer. There are many types of immunotherapy drugs used to treat other cancers that are now being evaluated in clinical trials for patients with digestive cancers including colon, pancreas, stomach, and liver cancers.
  • Heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy. This special technique combines chemotherapy and surgery in one procedure and is used primarily to destroy any unseen cancerous tissue in the abdomen after all visible tumors have been removed.
  • Chemotherapy. The correct application of chemotherapy around the time of surgery and for advanced disease can dramatically improve a patient's life, reduce symptoms, and improve the quality of life. Our world-class medical oncologists are well-versed in both standard, and investigational chemotherapy approaches to provide the right care at the right time.

Precise Radiation Therapy

NewYork-Presbyterian’s radiation oncologists use 3D imagery to deliver radiation to digestive cancer cells while reducing radiation exposure to nearby healthy tissue. This approach allows us to treat tumors that in the past may have been too close to vital organs. Our radiation therapy units feature the latest highly precise radiation delivery equipment. We offer external beam radiation therapy (such as intensity-modulated radiation, 3D conformal radiation, and stereotactic body radiotherapy) as well as brachytherapy (the implantation of radioactive seeds within or next to a tumor).

Clinical Trials

As active members of the international cancer research community and national cooperative cancer networks, our oncologists design, conduct, and lead clinical trials of promising treatments for digestive cancers, including metastatic disease. You may have the opportunity to receive an innovative therapy by participating in one of these pivotal studies.