Gastrointestinal Cancer Prevention Clinic
Northwestern's Gastrointestinal Cancer Prevention Clinic (GICPC) specializes in the prevention, early detection and diagnosis of gastrointestinal cancers (colon, small intestine, stomach, pancreas, and esophagus).
Services available to patients of the GICPC include, but are not limited to: genetic testing, screening and therapeutic endoscopy, imaging, gastrointestinal surgery, and psychological and nutrition counseling by a team of gastroenterologists, radiologists, pathologists, surgeons, nurses, clinical psychologists, and nutritionists. The first step is a meeting with one of our specialists to help determine your risk and develop a personalized program to protect your health, including screening recommendations. This may involve a referral to test for genes that increase susceptibility to gastrointestinal cancer. If indicated, your plan may include endoscopic screening such as colonoscopy or upper endoscopy to help find cancer early or prevent it from occurring. Blood tests or x-rays to provide additional information might also be recommended, as well as referral to specialist members of the team. The GICPC will schedule your tests, help determine how often you should be checked, and recommend which procedures will be most beneficial.
Taking Action to Reduce Your Risk
As many as one in five people who develop colorectal cancer have family members who have been affected by this disease. Other gastrointestinal cancers such as stomach, small intestinal, or pancreatic cancer may run in families as well. If you or a relative have had more than one type of cancer (including GI cancer), or pre-cancerous conditions such as GI polyps, gastrointestinal cancer may run in your family. If you have a BRCA2 mutation and a family history of pancreatic cancer, you may benefit from screening for pancreatic cancer. The GICPC will develop an individual risk assessment based on personal and family history, and other cancer risk factors. The information can be used to construct a personalized plan, which may involve a variety of GICPC team members.
There are some known inherited syndromes that increase gastrointestinal cancer risk:
- Hereditary Non-Polyposis Colorectal Cancer (HNPCC)
- Hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer syndrome (HNPCC), also known as Lynch Syndrome, is an inherited tendency to develop colorectal, endometrial (uterine) and other cancers. Inherited conditions are passed to an individual through their blood relatives. Although most cancers are not inherited, about 5 percent (%) of people who have colorectal or endometrial cancer have HNPCC.
- Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP)
- Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) is a genetic condition where affected individuals develop hundreds to thousands of polyps (abnormal, mushroom-like growths) throughout their gastrointestinal (GI) tract beginning at a young age (usually as a teenager or young adult). These polyps are usually found in the large intestine (colon and rectum), but they can develop in the stomach and small intestine as well.
- Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome (PJS)
- Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome (PJS) is a rare condition that tends to run in families. It is caused by a change in a gene that increases the risk for developing colon and other cancers. People with PJS develop polyps (growths) in the gastrointestinal tract.
- Juvenile Polyposis (JP)
- Juvenile polyposis syndrome (JPS) is a hereditary condition that is characterized by the presence of noncancerous polyps (growths) in the digestive tract. The term juvenile polyposis refers to the type of polyp (juvenile polyp) that is found after it is examined under a microscope, rather than the age at which people are diagnosed with JPS.
The majority of patients seen in our clinic, however, do not fall into any of the known categories above. If you have a known inherited gastrointestinal cancer risk, a likely inherited gastrointestinal cancer syndrome, or a family history of gastrointestinal cancer with unknown underlying cause, we can tailor an individual approach based on your specific family pattern of polyps or cancers and your preferences.
Registry, Tissue Bank and Clinical Trials
The High Risk Gastrointestinal Cancer Registry is dedicated to advancing the understanding of hereditary gastrointestinal cancers by gathering information about patients and their family members who have had gastrointestinal cancers or other related cancers, or are at increased risk of developing gastrointestinal cancer. All patients of the GICPC may participate in the Registry, and have access to its related educational materials and programs.
The Tissue Bank at the Lurie Cancer Center stores samples collected during a medical procedure such as a biopsy or blood test that were not needed for diagnosis or treatment. With the patient's written consent, samples are banked and used to study disease and find better ways to diagnose, prevent and treat hereditary gastrointestinal cancer in the future.
In addition, clinical trials that address how to prevent and treat inherited gastrointestinal cancer may be an option. The GICPC healthcare team will discuss these studies with you.
The Gastrointestinal Cancer Prevention Clinic
Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation
675 North St. Clair Street, 17th floor
Please call 312.695.5620 for more information or to schedule an appointment.
Our specialists work in partnership with referring physicians to provide the most advanced and comprehensive care available. To refer your patient to the Gastrointestinal Cancer Prevention Clinic, please call 312.695.5620. NM physicians may use Epic Referral. Referral name = GASTRO REFERRAL CANCER RISK