Gastrointestinal (GI) cancers are among the deadliest cancer diagnoses, yet not all patients with GI cancers will see a subspecialist. Considering the explosive pace at which cancer care is changing - with the development of new medications, increasingly sophisticated treatments and the availability of clinical trials - most patients with GI cancers would significantly benefit from seeing a gastrointestinal oncologist, says Gretel Terrero, M.D., a triple board-certified hematologist and medical oncologist at Baptist Health’s Miami Cancer Institute who subspecializes in GI cancers.
The Brown University/Harvard trained GI oncologist has participated in research that is showing promise in immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy for specific pancreatic and biliary cancer patients. Published in JAMA Oncology, “Ipilimumab/Nivolumab Therapy in Patients With Metastatic Pancreatic or Biliary Cancer With Homologous Recombination Deficiency Pathogenic Germline Variants,” the study points to a subset of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma patients and a biliary cancer patient who have germline variants that may be sensitive to immunotherapy strategies.
“More research is needed, but if we can improve longevity and quality of life for even 10 percent of pancreatic cancer patients, that is a big win,” says Dr. Terrero. “Every GI cancer patient who walks into my clinic will proceed with next-generation sequencing as well as germline genetic testing, even if they are Stage 1. This allows for individualized treatments from the start.”
Among the patients Dr. Terrero sees are those with cancers of the esophagus, stomach, gallbladder, biliary tract, liver, pancreas, small bowel, colon, rectum and anus, as well as patients who have neuroendocrine tumors of the GI tract. With a multidisciplinary team of caregivers at Miami Cancer Institute and two GI tumor board conferences a week, personalized treatment plans are developed for each patient.
Miami Cancer Institute offers comprehensive and innovative services including clinical trials, genetic counseling and education, immunotherapy and precision medicine, blood and marrow transplant services and more. The Institute was the first cancer center in South Florida to open a proton therapy center, is the most experienced in the region and one of the most highly used in the nation. The Institute also offers access to highly specialized, innovative technology including the MR-LINAC machine used in radiation therapy as well as irreversible electroporation, both of which have been found to be increasingly successful in a variety of GI cancers.
Dr. Terrero is located at Miami Cancer Institute’s Plantation office in Broward County. She is accepting new patient referrals and is available for second opinions. She can be reached at 954-837-1490.