• GW Gastrointestinal Cancer Program
  • National Leaders in Treating GI Cancers
  • The GW Cancer Center’s Gastrointestinal (GI) Cancer Program uses cutting-edge technology and a comprehensive approach to treating cancers of the GI tract, including colorectal cancer, liver cancer and pancreatic cancer. Patients treated at GW not only have access to surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, but also to cutting edge immunotherapies and minimally invasive robotic surgery. We also offer specialty care like our Liver and Pancreas Institute for Quality, genetic counselors, patient navigators, social workers and monthly colorectal cancer screenings. We offer personalized care and treatment plans tailored to individual needs rather than a “one-size-fits-all” approach.

Program Information

The GW Cancer Center accepts referrals for patients with all types of gastrointestinal cancer, as well as patients without a confirmed diagnosis in need of testing or surveillance. Our personalized and multidisciplinary approach means that patients have access to a variety of specialists during their clinic visit:

  • Medical oncologists coordinate care and treatment using a variety of different therapies
  • Surgical oncologists can evaluate and remove tumors, often using minimally invasive laproscopic or robotic techniques
  • Radiation oncologists can deliver a treatment plan tailored to each patient
  • Genetic counselors can help patients understand and manage their risk for cancer
  • Physicians can screen patients for colorectal cancer or suspicious polyps using a variety of options like the Hemoccult test, colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy
  • Nutritionists and other supportive care professionals help patients manage side effects and optimize their health during and after treatment

Our highly skilled team has the know-how and experience to deal with even the most complex cases. Every minute counts when you're faced with a cancer diagnosis. If you have been diagnosed or have symptoms, take the first step and schedule an appointment today.

Program Information

Collaborative Care
  • The Gastrointestinal Cancer Program provides complete care for each patient. A team of physicians and supportive care staff from different specialties come together to discuss each new case. They create a treatment plan that will best serve the patient.
  • To ensure that every patient is treated with the best possible therapies for their needs, our tumor board meets regularly to check progress and make any necessary adjustments to the treatment plan.
  • We also offer the services of a patient navigator who can help with care coordination, communication and many other patient needs or barriers to care.
  • Our team consists of nationally renowned specialists in gastroentorology, medical and radiation oncology, interventional radiology, as well as cross-disciplinary collaboration with experts from across GW, including experts in colorectal, hepatobiliary, pancreatic and thoracic surgery.
  • Learn more about the GW Cancer Center's multidisciplinary approach from a recent interview with WTOP.
Clinical Research
  • Patients in clinical trials benefit from the latest developments in the field. Our patients have access to state-of-the-art clinical trials and newer medical therapies.
  • Our model as an academic medical center is built on research, clinical care and finding solutions to cancer problems in our region.
  • Our community-based research is focused on understanding and reducing gastrointestinal cancer disparities in the DC-metro region, including colon and liver cancer, special populations affected by HIV and anal cancer.
Advanced Diagnosis and Treatment
  • The GW Cancer Center offers screening and treatment for all forms of gastrointestinal cancers, including esophageal, liver, pancreatic, bile duct cancer, colon, rectal and other types of cancer affecting the digestive system.
  • We provide biopsies and on-site processing of results, including molecurlar analyses of tumors to better tailor treatments.
  • We also provide on-site diagnostic imaging services.
  • Patients at GW have access to all the latest treatments including radiation therapy; chemotherapy; systemic therapies like immunotherapy and targeted therapies; and surgical removal of tumors using minimally invasive robotic or laproscopic surgery.
  • Our dedicated staff also offer supportive care and resources throughout your time at GW.
Leading Edge Technology

The GW Cancer Center provides patients with access to the latest technology in gastrointestinal cancers, including:

  • Minimally invasive robotic systems for colon and rectal surgery
  • Robotic-assisted lymphadenectomy
  • Minimally invasive pancreas resection/whipple for benign and malignant conditions
  • Minimally invasive liver resection for benign and malignant conditions
  • Interventional ablation techniques, which are image-guided techniques for eliminating tumors without surgery
  • Interventional embolization procedures such as TheraSphere® and chemoembolization
  • Advanced stereostactic body radiation treatment, a specialized form of radiation that precisely targets tumors
  • Systematic therapies including immunotherapy and targeted therapies (drugs that work at the molecular level to stop cancer)
GW Liver and Pancreas Institute for Quality
  • Led by Lynt Johnson, MD, MBA, the GW Liver and Pancreas Institute for Quality offers innovative and state-of-the-art treatments for patients with pancreas, liver, bile duct, duodenum and gallbladder diseases.
  • We offer some of the best outcomes of any center in the country.
  • Our team not only offers surgical approaches to the most complex conditions but also combines expertise in interventional ablative techniques, vascular reconstruction, targeted precision drug therapies, and much more.

Learn more >>

Robotic-Assisted Surgery
  • In 2009, the GW Hospital became the first in the region to use the da Vinci system for robotic colon and rectal surgery. We were also the first to use the Med Robotics Flex Robot for trans-anal surgery for patients with rectal cancer or rectal lesions. We also offer the brand new XI robot, which is the newest robotic system available for patients.
  • During a robotic colectomy, surgeons remove cancerous portions of the colon and rectum, as well as benign tumors and polyps.
  • A robot-assisted approach provides surgeons with the tools to more easily connect the two ends of the colon after the cancer has been removed.
  • The procedure can be completed with a few tiny incisions, rather than the one long incision used in traditional open colon surgery, which means a faster recovery and less pain for patients.
  • Robotic surgery allows surgeons to perform complex rectal cancer surgery, which had been exteremely challenging, in a minimally invasive manner.
  • The robot provides improved visualization of the surgical site through 3D magnification, enhanced dexterity for manipulation and dissection of tissue and greater precision.

Learn more >>

Page last updated: April 2019

Title Description
A Phase I Study of Ipilimumab and Nivolumab in Advanced HIV-Associated Solid Tumors, with Expansion Cohorts in HIV-Associated Solid Tumors and a Cohort of HIV-Associated Classical Hodgkin Lymphoma

Primary objective:

Maximum tolerated dose of nivolumab [Time Frame: 56 days]
Will be defined as the starting dose level at which 1/6 subjects experience dose limiting toxicity (DLT) with the next higher dose having at least >= 2 participants encountering DLT. Toxicity data will be presented by type and severity for each dose group and overall; the incidence of toxicity related dose reductions and treatment discontinuations will be summarized.

Secondary objectives:

  1. Objective response rate [Time Frame: Up to 3 years]
    The proportion of patients achieving objective responses (by Response Evaluation Criteria In Solid Tumors 1.1 or Kaposi's sarcoma response criteria, which includes RECIST for visceral disease, or by Response Evaluation Criteria in Lymphoma for classical Hodgkin lymphoma [cHL]) and their corresponding 95% confidence intervals (calculated using exact binomial) will be reported separately for solid tumor and cHL according to treatment (combination therapy and single agent) using designated response criteria. Descriptive statistics will also be compiled for duration of response.

  2. Immune function [Time Frame: Up to 3 years]
    Descriptive statistics will be generated to evaluate the effects of single agent nivolumab, and the combination of ipilimumab and nivolumab, on immune function (human immunodeficiency virus [HIV] viral load, CD4 and CD8 cells).

  3. Change in immune status [Time Frame: Baseline up to 3 years]
    Change in immune status from pre-study to the end of study will be examined using a nonparametric Wilcoxon signed-rank test.

  4. Change in HIV viral load [Time Frame: Baseline up to 3 years]
    Change in HIV viral load from pre-study to the end of study will be examined using a nonparametric Wilcoxon signed-rank test.

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Participants must have histologically confirmed solid tumor malignancy that is metastatic or unresectable and for which standard curative or palliative measures do not exist or are no longer effective; participants with uncontrolled Kaposi sarcoma are permitted 
  • HIV-1 infection
  • Participants must have measurable disease
  • Prior therapy for metastatic disease permitted
  • Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status =< 1 (Karnofsky >= 70%)
  • HIV viral load should be well suppressed, defined as below the limit of detection of the local assay or below 75 copies/mLCD4 count requirements differ depending on progression of the study. (Please contact study team for details.)
  • Participants must be purified protein derivative (PPD) negative
  • Women of childbearing potential and men must agree to use adequate contraception (hormonal or barrier method of birth control; abstinence) prior to study entry and for the duration of study participation
  • Participants MUST receive appropriate care and treatment for HIV infection and should be under the care of a physician experienced in HIV management
  • Participants who have hepatitis C and hepatitis B may be enrolled, provided total bilirubin is =< 1.5 x institutional ULN, and AST (SGOT) and ALT (SGPT) must be =< 3 X institutional upper limit of normal, and hepatitis B virus (HBV) deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) < 100 IU/mL (if hepatitis B positive) within 2 weeks prior to enrollment

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Participants who have received any other investigational agents within the 4 weeks prior to enrollment; concurrent radiation therapy is not permitted, except palliative (limited-field) radiation therapy, if all of the following criteria are met:
    • Repeat imaging demonstrates no new sites of bone metastases
    • The lesion being considered for palliative radiation is not a target lesion
  • Participants with active brain metastases or leptomeningeal metastases must be excluded
  • Participants with clinical or radiographic evidence of pancreatitis are excluded
  • Uncontrolled intercurrent illness 
  • Participants should be excluded if they have had prior treatment with an anti-PD-1, anti-programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1), anti-programmed cell death ligand 2 (PD-L2), anti-CTLA-4 antibody, or any other antibody or drug specifically targeting T-cell co-stimulation or immune checkpoint pathways; prior immune-modulating therapy including vaccines may be eligible
  • Other inclusion/exclusion criteria are present. Please contact the study team for a complete list.
A randomized phase II study of gemcitabine and nab-pacitaxel compared with 5 fluorouracil and lipsomal irnotecan in older patients with treatment naïve metastatic pancreatic cancer

Primary outcome measurements:
Overall survival (OS) [Time Frame: Up to 2 years post treatment]

Secondary outcome measurements:
Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL) [Time Frame: Up to 2 years post treatment]

Inclusion Criteria:

  1. Newly diagnosed untreated metastatic adenocarcinoma of the pancreas. However, previous surgery, adjuvant chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy will be allowed, provided radiation therapy is completed at least 2 weeks prior to registration and adjuvant therapy was administered more than 6 months prior to registration. Patients with the following histology are excluded: acinar cell; adenosquamous carcinoma
  2. Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status 0-2
  3. Patient is an English speaker with the ability to understand and complete the informed consent and questionnaires
  4. Leukocytes >= 3,000/mcL (obtained within 4 weeks of registration)
  5. Absolute neutrophil count >= 1,500/mcL (obtained within 4 weeks of registration)
  6. Platelets >= 100,000/mcL (obtained within 4 weeks of registration)
  7. Total bilirubin =< institutional upper limit of normal (ULN) (obtained within 4 weeks of registration)
  8. Aspartate aminotransferase (AST) (serum glutamic oxaloacetic transaminase [SGOT])/alanine aminotransferase (ALT) (serum glutamate pyruvate transaminase [SGPT]) =< 2.5 x institutional ULN (obtained within 4 weeks of registration)
  9. Creatinine =< institutional ULN unless data exists supporting safe use at lower kidney function values, no lower than 30 mL/min/1.73 m^2 (obtained within 4 weeks of registration)
  10. Glomerular filtration rate (GFR) >= 40 mL/min/1.73 m^2 unless data exists supporting safe use at lower kidney function values, no lower than 30 mL/min/1.73 m^2 (obtained within 4 weeks of registration)
  11. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients on effective anti-retroviral therapy with undetectable viral load within 6 months of registration are eligible for this protocol. HIV positive (+) patients who are on ritonavir or/and cobicistat-based regimen must be switched to alternative anti-retroviral therapy (ART)
  12. For patients with evidence of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, the HBV viral load must be undetectable on suppressive therapy, if indicated
  13. Patients with a history of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection must have been treated and cured. For patients with HCV infection who are currently on treatment, they are eligible if they have an undetectable HCV viral load
  14. Male patients must agree not to father children while on study
  15. Patients with known history or current symptoms of cardiac disease, or history of treatment with cardiotoxic agents, should have a clinical risk assessment of cardiac function using the New York Heart Association functional classification. To be eligible for this protocol, patients should be class 2B or better
  16. Patients must have measurable disease and scans must be done within 4 weeks of registration
  17. Patients classified to have mild-moderate abnormalities in any of the domains evaluated in the screening geriatric assessment and are classified as "vulnerable" are eligible. Patients classified without any abnormalities ("fit") or with severe cognitive/functional impairment or high co-morbidity score ("frail") on the screening geriatric assessment are ineligible
  18. Patients must agree not to take any medications or substances that are strong inhibitors or inducers of CYP3A4. Those who are randomized to liposomal irinotecan treatment arm should avoid drugs that are UGT1A1 inhibitors
Randomized Double-Blind Phase III Trial of Vitamin D3 Supplementation in Patients with Previously Untreated Metastatic Colorectal Cancer (SOLARIS)

Primary objective:
To compare the progression-free survival (PFS) of patients receiving high-dose cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) in combination with standard chemotherapy (leucovorin calcium, fluorouracil, and oxaliplatin [FOLFOX] or leucovorin calcium, fluorouracil, and irinotecan hydrochloride [FOLFIRI]) and bevacizumab versus those receiving standard-dose vitamin D3 in combination with standard chemotherapy and bevacizumab.

Secondary objectives:

  1. To compare the objective response rate (ORR) of patients receiving high-dose vitamin D3 in combination with standard chemotherapy + bevacizumab versus those receiving standard-dose vitamin D3 in combination with standard chemotherapy + bevacizumab.
  2. To compare the overall survival (OS) of patients receiving high-dose vitamin D3 in combination with standard chemotherapy + bevacizumab versus those receiving standard-dose vitamin D3 in combination with standard chemotherapy + bevacizumab.
  3. To evaluate and compare the toxicity of adding high-dose vitamin D3 versus standard-dose vitamin D3 to chemotherapy + bevacizumab.
  4. To assess the influence of diet, body mass index, physical activity, and other lifestyle habits on PFS among patients with locally advanced/metastatic colorectal cancer.
  5. To evaluate the incidence of vitamin D3 deficiency in participants with previously untreated metastatic colorectal cancer.
  6. To compare the efficacy of high-dose vitamin D3 versus standard-dose vitamin D3 in subgroups of patients defined by baseline plasma calcifediol (25[OH]D) levels.
  7. To evaluate the prognostic effect of highest-achieved 25(OH)D levels with PFS.

Inclusion Criteria:

  1. Histologically confirmed advanced/metastatic colorectal adenocarcinoma for which metastasectomy is not planned.
  2. No mismatch repair deficiency (dMMR) or high-frequency microsatellite instability (MSI-H) disease.
  3. Measurable disease per Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors (RECIST) version (v) 1.1.
  4. No prior systemic treatment for metastatic disease.
  5. Patients may have received prior neoadjuvant or adjuvant chemotherapy and/or chemoradiation. The last course of adjuvant therapy must have been completed > 12 months prior to colorectal cancer recurrence.
  6. Patients may have received prior standard rectal cancer chemoradiation so long as prior radiotherapy was to =< 25% of bone marrow. Previous radiation therapy must have been completed >= 4 weeks prior to registration.
  7. No continuous daily use of vitamin D supplements >= 2,000 IU per day for the 12 months prior to registration. Patients may have had continuous daily use of vitamin D supplements >= 2,000 IU per day if total duration < 12 months in the 12 months prior to registration. Patients may have had continuous daily use of vitamin D supplements < 2,000 IU per day for any duration prior to registration.
  8. Patients must have completed any major surgery or open biopsy >= 4 weeks prior to registration and must have completed any minor surgery or core biopsy >= 1 week prior to registration. (Note: insertion of a vascular access device is not considered major or minor surgery.) Patients must have recovered from the effects of any surgery (e.g. wound is healed, no active infection, no drains, etc.) prior to registration.
  9. Not pregnant and not nursing. This study involves an agent that has known genotoxic, mutagenic, and teratogenic effects. Therefore, for women of childbearing potential only, a negative serum or urine pregnancy test done =< 14 days prior to registration is required.
  10. Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status: 0-1.
  11. Absolute neutrophil count >= 1,500/mm^3.
  12. Platelet count >= 100,000/mm^3.
  13. Hemoglobin >= 9 g/dL.
  14. Creatinine =< 1.5 x upper limit of normal (ULN) OR calculated (Calc.) creatinine clearance (CrCl) > 30 mL/min.
  15. Calcium =< 1.0 x ULN.
  16. Corrected for albumin level if albumin not within institutional limits of normal.
  17. Total bilirubin =< 1.5 x ULN.
  18. If Gilbert's disease, use direct bilirubin instead of total bilirubin; direct bilirubin =< 1.5 x ULN if patient to receive FOLFIRI; direct bilirubin =< 3.0 x ULN if patient to receive leucovorin, infusional fluorouracil, and oxaliplatin (modified [m]FOLFOX6).
  19. Aspartate aminotransferase (AST)/alanine aminotransferase (ALT) =< 2.5 x ULN.
  20. AST/ALT < 5 x ULN if clearly attributable to liver metastases.
  21. Urine protein to creatinine (UPC) ratio < 1 OR urine protein =< 1.
GW Gastrointestinal Cancers Program
2150 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington , DC
United States

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