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Interior Cancer Journal

Early Detection of Gastrointestinal Cancers With Advanced Endoscopic Techniques and Teamwork

At the Ertan Digestive Disease Center, affiliated gastroenterologists use state-of-the-art endoscopic technology for the detection and treatment of gastrointestinal (GI) cancers. If cancer is diagnosed, close collaboration across disciplines ensures that a medical oncologist sees the patient the same day.

Nirav Thosani“We get our patients into the system very quickly,” says Nirav Thosani, M.D., M.H.A., who holds the Atilla Ertan Chair in Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at  McGovern Medical School at UTHealth and is director of advanced endoscopy at the Ertan Digestive Disease Center at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center. “We start the process by performing all diagnostic procedures within the same week of referral. Our patients have access to a comprehensive range of technology under one roof – an advantage available only at select endoscopic centers in the United States.”

Advanced endoscopic technology at the Ertan Center includes volumetric laser endomicroscopy (VLE) for early detection of esophageal cancer within Barrett’s esophagus, endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) with elastography for detection and staging of various GI cancers, cholangioscopy and pancreatoscopy for detection of pancreaticobiliary cancers, double-balloon endoscopy for diagnosis of small bowel tumors, and chromoendoscopy for the diagnosis of early colon cancers.

Gastroenterologists work in close collaboration with their medical oncology, pathology and surgical oncology colleagues to provide quality care in a timely fashion. “A cytopathologist is available during each EUS-guided biopsy to review the sample and provide an immediate diagnosis, a patient benefit available only at specialized centers,” Dr. Thosani says. “This practice prevents unnecessary repeat procedures due to inadequate sampling of the tumor, and it also ensures that patients receive timely care.”

Affiliated medical oncologist Julie Rowe, M.D., and her partner Putao Cen, M.D., see patients soon after biopsy at the Memorial Hermann Cancer Center-Texas Medical Center, where radiology scans and treatments are scheduled to assure a plan of treatment is quickly identified. Nutritionists and social workers are also available to provide assistance.

Julie Rowe“The service we provide patients is unique in that they have access to every provider they’ll need once they’re in our system,” Dr. Rowe says. “The fact that we’re all located on the same floor in the Memorial Hermann Medical Plaza makes it very convenient. We educate patients on what to expect of their treatment, and have a dedicated GI team that includes physicians, nurses and medical assistants as well as a genetic counselor and oncology-certified pharmacists. Each case is reviewed by a multidisciplinary gastrointestinal tumor board.”

Affiliated gastroenterologists at the Ertan Center perform minimally invasive endoscopic procedures such as radiofrequency ablation of Barrett’s esophagus as well as pancreaticobiliary tumors, endoscopic mucosal resection and endoscopic submucosal dissection for treatment of early GI cancers. “These diagnostic and therapeutic procedures are performed by less than 2 percent of gastroenterologists in the Houston area,” Dr. Thosani says. “If patients require additional care, they have the full support of a top-ranked hospital in the Texas Medical Center. Our goal is to provide excellence in clinical care with compassion, grounded in cutting-edge research in gastroenterology and hepatology.”

2017 Gastroenterology and Hepatology Symposium

Join gastroenterology specialists from McGovern Medical School at UTHealth and affiliated with Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center on Feb. 11 for the 2017 Gastroenterology and Hepatology Symposium, Frontiers in Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. The symposium will take an in-depth look at the latest advancements in technology, controversial topics, and treatments of GI and liver disease. For more information and to register, click here.