Upper gastrointestinal cancer program simplifies, expands care

The Norton Cancer Institute Upper Gastrointestinal Cancer Program was formed in 2018 with the chief objective to provide faster, easier access to evidence-based, compassionate care and novel treatments for gastrointestinal (GI) malignancies. These include cancers of the liver, pancreas, biliary tract, stomach and esophagus.

The cornerstone of the program is the closer alignment of specialists with individual patients in a multidisciplinary care team. Paramount to our success has been using the skills and expertise of a dedicated GI patient navigator who works closely with patients and their families, and simplifies their access to this specialized care.

The GI patient navigator facilitates timely appointments with multiple specialists. This can include medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgical oncologists, interventional radiologists, an interventional gastroenterologist, geneticists and dietitians.

The navigator also provides education on available patient resources and can connect patients with specialists for consultations. Processes have been implemented so primary care and specialty care providers can make referrals directly to the GI patient navigator via electronic medical record or telephone. This important team member is a vital link between patients, families, referring providers and the program’s multidisciplinary specialists.

Case review by a multidisciplinary team takes place at regularly scheduled tumor conferences, which is further augmented through videoconferencing that allows the widest access to all credentialed providers. Treatment plans cross multiple disciplines and can include innovative clinical trials, immunotherapy, minimally invasive procedures, state-of-the-art radiation and advanced diagnostics.

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