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Targeted Areas of Research

Chronic inflammation of digestive organs can increase the risk for developing cancer. A multi-disciplinary approach to patients with these problems has led to early diagnosis and effective treatment, leading to cure. Surveillance programs can now identify patients who are on the verge of getting cancer so that they can be treated before cancer develops.

Here at the UW Division of Gastroenterology, we believe, along with our partners, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, that we will dramatically push forward the frontiers of scientific discovery and patient care in the next 10 years. We will be able to detect GI cancers at their precursor stages and intervene so that they can be prevented or cured. We will offer cutting-edge treatment for GI cancers, resulting in superior outcomes.

Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States, affecting an estimated 148,000 Americans each year and claiming more than 56,000 lives annually. In fact, 1 in 20 people will develop colon cancer at some time during their lives. Most colon cancer starts as a precancerous growth (polyp) that can be detected and removed during colonoscopy.

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Esophagitis & Esophageal Cancer

Discoveries in the past decade have determined that most gastric cancer is caused by a bacterium called H. pylori that induces chronic inflammation of the stomach (gastritis). Gastritis patients from certain geographic areas are more prone to developing cancer of the stomach.

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Gastrointestinal Motility Disorders

This includes a wide spectrum of disorders, such as difficulty in swallowing, abdominal distention and bloating, and paralysis of the stomach (gastroparesis) or the intestines (psuedo-obstruction). Motility symptoms, such as alteration in bowel habits (diarrhea, constipation), together with pain, can be incapacitating in the common syndrome known as irritable bowel syndrome.

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Inflammatory Bowel Diseases & Intestinal Cancer

Inflammatory bowel diseases (ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease) are common and vexing problems. The causes and triggers for these conditions remain unclear, and consistently effective treatment continues to be elusive.

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Liver Diseases

The liver is the single largest internal organ in the human body and serves essential and vital functions. With the increasing use of industrial and environmental chemicals, the ingestion of over-the-counter medication and unregulated health-food supplements, physicians are seeing an increased number of acute liver failures. UW Medicine is one of several centers in the nation participating in a program to admit, investigate, and treat patients with acute liver failure.

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Pancreatitis & Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Every year, 30,000 to 40,000 people living in this country die of the disease. Perhaps even more alarming, the incidence of pancreatic cancer appears to be increasing.

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Hypotheses in Medicine

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Every year, 30,000 to 40,000 people living in this country die of the disease. Perhaps even more alarming, the incidence of pancreatic cancer appears to be increasing.

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