Basic research by medical oncologist Andrea Wang-Gillam, MD, PhD, surgeon William Hawkins, MD, and others is fostering development of new pancreas cancer therapies.

Washington University hepatobiliary-pancreatic and gastrointestinal (HPB-GI) surgeons not only offer advanced treatments but also are at the forefront of research on liver and pancreatic cancer.

Before or after surgery, patients may be approached by our clinical research coordinator regarding trials for which they may be eligible. Participating in these trials is strongly encouraged, as it serves to help advance diagnosis and treatment of cancers of the GI tract.

As part of the Whipple procedure – the major operation for pancreatic cancer – these surgeons have pioneered a technique resulting in the lowest fistula rate reported in any large surgical series: only 1.5 percent.

Among areas of recent investigation, HPB-GI researchers showed that the radical antegrade modular pancreatosplenectomy (RAMPS) procedure is highly effective in removing cancers of the body and tail of the pancreas. They also demonstrated that a new stapling method led to fewer postoperative problems for patients undergoing pancreas surgery.

Other areas of study include:

  • Potential tools for the early detection of pancreas cancer and for metastatic disease that accompanies the malignancy
  • The presence of tumors in the liver secondary to colorectal cancer even after imaging shows they have disappeared
  • Phase II clinical trial of adjuvant therapy in patients with pancreatic cancer
  • A clinical trial measuring the effectiveness of pre- and post-operative chemotherapy in combination with resection for liver tumors secondary to colorectal cancer
  • Evaluation of a novel immunotherapy treatment for patients with pancreatic cancer
  • Active investigation into the genetics and genomics of cancer metastases

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