Our department

The Gastroenterology Department at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), Chicago, offers comprehensive treatments for a wide range of digestive system cancers. CTCA® Chicago treats patients with colorectal, pancreatic, esophageal, stomach and liver cancer. The gastroenterologists at our Chicago hospital may also help treat lung or breast cancers that have metastasized (or spread) to the gastrointestinal system. The team is led by experts who diagnose, stage and treat gastrointestinal cancers, as well as precancerous conditions such as Barrett’s esophagus, a risk factor for esophageal cancer.

Learn more about our Barrett's esophagus treatment program

Our gastroenterologists employ a number of minimally invasive techniques to treat tumors and help reduce cancer-related symptoms. These trained clinicians meet with patients to obtain a thorough medical history, including a review of symptoms. The gastroenterologists use diagnostic tests and procedures, such as colonoscopies and endoscopic ultrasounds (EUS). Colonoscopies are used to help diagnose colorectal cancer, and to determine the source of abdominal pain or other symptoms. A gastroenterologist may also conduct a biopsy, if necessary. Gastroenterologists also use endoscopic ultrasounds to obtain images of the GI tract and surrounding regions, by inserting a camera-tipped device into the mouth or rectum.

In treating pancreatic cancer patients, endoscopic ultrasounds may also be used to inject chemotherapy into a pancreatic tumor, which may shrink tumors and relieve pain. Gastroenterologists can also use the EUS to drain fluid from pancreatic pseudo cysts. In addition, the ultrasounds allow clinicians to insert fiduciary markers onto tumors, enabling radiation oncologists to target tumors more directly.

Experienced GI team

Led by Pankaj Vashi, MD, Chair of the CTCA Department of Medicine and Medical Director of Gastroenterology/Nutrition & Metabolic Support at CTCA Chicago, our multidisciplinary team of physicians has expertise in performing cancer-related procedures in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Your care team may include a gastroenterologist, radiologist, surgical, medical and radiation oncologists, dietitian, naturopathic clinician, and other cancer experts across a variety of disciplines.

The gastroenterology team works together to understand your individual needs and provide comprehensive, personalized treatments tailored to your needs. The team meets regularly to discuss your progress and modify your treatment accordingly.

When you arrive at our hospital, your care team will review your symptoms with you and obtain a health history. Then, we’ll use a variety of diagnostic tools and interventional procedures to evaluate the tumor(s). We usually get diagnostic test results back within one to two days.

We’re committed to finding options for each patient, including those with advanced-stage disease. Our experts are trained and experienced in using innovative techniques and ablative treatments to help remove obstructions in the GI tract and relieve pain or breathing problems. For example, for pancreatic cancer patients, we may perform therapeutic endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) to relieve pain, deliver intratumoral chemotherapy or drain pancreatic pseudocysts (fluid build-up around the pancreas). We may also use EUS to place fiducial markers in pancreatic masses prior to radiation therapy for more precise targeting of tumors.

Helping you manage side effects

Some common side effects of cancer treatment are pain, nausea, decreased appetite, fatigue, constipation and diarrhea. We recognize that these symptoms may delay or interrupt your treatment and interfere with your ability to fight the disease.

Throughout your treatment, your care team will use multiple measures to help reduce symptoms. For example, we may prescribe anti-nausea medications prior to treatment to manage nausea. We also work with your dietitian to support your dietary needs to help you get the nourishment you need.

To reduce pain, we may prescribe medications or implement other methods. We can also use EUS to perform celiac plexus neurolysis (CPN), a procedure that blocks nerves in order to alleviate pain.

In addition to nutrition therapy and pain management, your care team may offer other available supportive care services throughout your treatment, such as oncology rehabilitation and mind-body medicine, to help keep you strong, reduce side effects and improve your well-being.

Meet our gastroenterology team

Pankaj Vashi - Chair, CTCA Department of Medicine

Pankaj Vashi

Vice Chief of Staff, CTCA Chicago

Bruce Gershenhorn - Medical Oncologist

Bruce Gershenhorn

CTCA Lung Cancer Program Director

Evan Pisick - Medical Oncologist

Evan Pisick

Genitourinary Medical Oncology Clinical Advisor, Chief of Medical Oncology, CTCA Chicago

Hatem Halabi - Assistant Director of the GI Cancer Institute

Hatem Halabi

Interim Chair, CTCA Department of Surgery

Karan Shah

Radiation Oncologist, CTCA Chicago

Karen Smorowski - Radiation Oncologist

Karen Smorowski

Radiation Oncologist, CTCA Chicago

Chicago Hospital

Where we are located

CTCA Chicago

Gastroenterology Department
2520 Elisha Ave.
Zion, IL 60099
New patients: 855-635-3218 | Existing Patients: (847) 510-CTCA

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