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Yale Program Treats Individuals at High Risk for Gastrointestinal and Pancreatic Cancers

October 30, 2023
by Serena Crawford

Yale’s Digestive Health Center, a hub offering advanced medical and surgical treatments for individuals with gastrointestinal issues, recently opened the Gastrointestinal (GI) and Pancreatic Cancer Prevention Program at its North Haven location. The new program includes the Lynch Syndrome and Polyposis and Hereditary Gastric Cancer clinics, directed by Xavier Llor, MD, PhD, professor of medicine (digestive diseases), and the Pancreatic Cancer Early Detection Clinic, directed by James Farrell, MBChB, professor of medicine (digestive diseases).

Located at 8 Devine Street, the GI and Pancreatic Cancer Prevention Program provides patients with in-person and telehealth options for personalized cancer risk assessment and testing to inform medical decisions. If patients are at risk of familial or hereditary cancer, they can also receive genetic testing and counseling at the Cancer Genetics Clinic. Individuals not suspected of having a genetic predisposition are provided with personalized information on how to lower cancer risk. Other services offered include preventative cancer care, surveillance, surgical decision-making, and follow-up care.

“In creating the program, we wanted to bring together a collaborative, interdisciplinary group of specialists who can leverage resources to better serve people who are at high risk for these cancers,” Llor said.

“The program emphasizes our collaborative approach with all clinicians so that patients can benefit from state-of-the art care in a coordinated manner, while still working closely with their own physicians,” Farrell added.

National leaders in their fields, Llor and Farrell bring a high level of expertise and experience to the program. In the past decade, due in large part to their contributions, Yale has risen to the forefront of familial and genetically driven gastrointestinal cancer and pancreatic cancer research and care of patients at high risk for those conditions.

The new program assembles clinics that were previously separate into one space, increasing awareness about services, according to Llor. This multidisciplinary approach allows Llor and Farrell to continue building on their expertise and expanding the integrated care that has made their clinics top referral places for patients in the Northeast, Llor said.

“Health care can be complex and fragmented,” Llor said. “We have gathered a team that is committed to providing the best experience possible for patients by coordinating care—including primary and secondary preventative services—and by providing support in navigating what can be a complicated system.”

“These interventions can have a life-changing impact on patients by allowing them to better manage their health and reduce their risk of developing cancer,” Farrell said.

In addition to serving as a home for cancer treatment and prevention within digestive diseases, the program offers individuals the opportunity to participate in research studies to advance knowledge about their condition.

The Yale Digestive Health Center is a collaboration between Yale School of Medicine, Yale Medicine, and Yale New Haven Health. The North Haven location welcomed its first patients on January 31, 2023, and continues to expand its community reach. In addition to the GI and Pancreatic Cancer Prevention Program, clinical programs at the facility include the Center for Weight Management, Center for Nutrition and Wellness, Fatty Liver Disease Program, Gastrointestinal Motility Program, Inflammatory Bowel Disease Program, Celiac Disease Program, and General Gastroenterology.

Since forming one of the nation’s first sections of hepatology more than 75 years ago and then gastroenterology nearly 70 years ago, Yale’s Section of Digestive Diseases has had an enduring impact on research and clinical care in gastrointestinal and liver disorders. To learn more about their work, visit Digestive Diseases.

Submitted by Serena Crawford on October 27, 2023