Gastrointestinal (GI) Cancer Program

Photo of Dr. Vonderheide smiling in lab
Robert H. Vonderheide, MD, DPhil

Program Overview 

Penn Medicine's Gastrointestinal (GI) Cancer Program offers comprehensive care for the full spectrum of GI cancers. From diagnoses to complex cases to clinical trials and survivorship care, our team of experts works together to fight GI cancers. Our physicians are nationally and internationally recognized for their clinical expertise and research, and for their success in decreasing the incidence of local recurrence in most GI tumors and increasing the cure rate for tumors of the colon, rectum and pancreas.

Conditions Treated by the GI Cancer Program

Our GI specialists from medical oncology, surgeons, radiation oncology and gastroenterology focus exclusively on GI cancers, including:

Why Penn's GI Cancer Program Is Different

  • Our physicians are nationally recognized for their surgical expertise in:
    • Whipple surgery procedure--Penn surgeons perform the whipple procedure for pancreatic cancer with reduced complication rates and long-term survival outcomes that set the standard nationally. 
    • Minimally invasive techniques, including gastrectomy for gastric adenocarcinoma
  • We offer advanced and targeted radiation oncology options for colon, esophageal, kidney and pancreatic cancers at the Roberts Proton Therapy Center, the only proton therapy center in the region.
  • We offer genetic testing for those who may be at risk, with the GI Cancer Risk Evaluation Program.
  • Patients receive access to clinical trials pre-and post-surgery.
  • We are the only medical center in the country funded by the NCI Program Project Mechanism for esophageal cancer.
  • U.S. News & World Report ranks Penn Gastroenterology as the top in the Philadelphia region and among the best in the nation.

Treatments and Services Offered by the GI Cancer Program

Penn Medicine provides the latest technologies and therapies for the treatment of GI cancers in addition to a variety of helpful services.

Take a look at how we treated patient Kim Vernick’s inoperable pancreatic cancer through a clinical trial and personalized treatment plan.

A Premier GI Cancer Research Program

Our GI Cancer Research Program is one of the nation's largest GI cancer research centers in the country. Our investigators benefit each day from collaborations and interactions with over 400 scientists and physicians involved in the Abramson Cancer Center.

    • Pioneers in pancreatic cancer care - Penn researchers and scientists were selected as part of the nationwide "Dream Team" for Stand Up 2 Cancer. As one of the most innovative research projects to date, we are accelerating the pace at which new drugs for pancreatic cancer are brought to patients.
    • Is home to basic scientists that are developing new ways to study genetic alterations and determine their clinical outcome
    • Has a dedicated, multidisciplinary team on the Pancreatic Cancer Translational Center of Excellence - Spearheaded by Robert Vonderheide, MD, DPhilAnil Rustgi, MD, and Peter O'Dwyer, MD, the Pancreatic Cancer TCE uses insights into pancreatic cancer biology and genetics to create a deeper understanding of both the tumor and its tendency to metastasize. We're unlocking new strategies for a standard pancreatic cancer care model that are changing what it means to receive a pancreatic cancer diagnosis.