Gastrointestinal cancer (GI) is a broad term that refers to tumors that occur throughout the gastrointestinal tract, including the esophagus, stomach, liver, biliary tract, pancreas, small and large intestines, and anus. Prognosis for these diseases is highly variable and is heavily dependent on both the specific type of cancer in question and the tumor's state at the time of diagnosis.
Colorectal cancer, a type of GI cancer, is known to develop slowly; therefore early detection can play a substantial role in increasing survival. According to the National Cancer Policy Board, implementing comprehensive colorectal cancer screening could result in up to a 29 percent drop in deaths from this disease. Therefore, it is reasonable to believe that patients would be well served by the identification of effective diagnostic biomarkers that could be used to supplement the most common mechanism of diagnosis, colonoscopy.
Within this gap G-DOC can make the most concrete contribution to the field, and it is hoped that as we increase the number of studies available within the tool, it will be possible to make progress towards identifying diagnostic biomarkers. Research in this area is being conducted with the help of physician scientists and researchers from The Ruesch Center for the Cure of Gastrointestinal Cancers at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Colorectal Cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, with approximately 150,000 cases diagnosed every year, according to the American Cancer Society. It is also responsible for approximately 50,000 deaths each year.
Among GI tumors, pancreatic cancer has an especially poor prognosis, with less than 5% of patients surviving more than 5 years post-diagnosis. This disease is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, representing approximately six percent of all cancer-related deaths. Contributing to the poor prognosis is that fact that about 20% of patients have locally advanced disease at the time of diagnosis, and in 60% of the cases the tumor presents as metastatic disease.
The treatment of pancreatic cancer is in desperate need of a set of truly predictive and robust markers to assist with the clinical management of this vulnerable patient group for both surgical and chemotherapeutic applications. G-DOC is beginning to build its data collection for this disease area, and we hope to help enable the research community to make more significant progress in extending patient survival by facilitating the identification of biomarkers for earlier diagnosis.