Cancer Treatment Centers of America


Dr. Pankaj Vashi, Chair of the Department of Medicine at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) and Medical Director of Gastroenterology/Nutrition & Metabolic Support at CTCA® at Midwestern, heads our Gastroenterology Program. He has dedicated his career to empowering patients, providing them with innovative treatments and the best quality of care possible.

Our department

The Gastroenterology Department at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) provides minimally invasive treatments to treat precancerous conditions (such as Barrett's esophagus) and tumors and provide relief from cancer-related symptoms. Our goal is to help each patient maintain their quality of life and explore new treatment approaches.

Experienced GI team

At CTCA®, you’ll work with an integrated team of physicians who have expertise in performing cancer-related procedures in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Your care team may include: a gastroenterologist, radiologist, surgical, medical and radiation oncologists, dietitian, naturopathic clinician, and other cancer experts across a variety of disciplines.

The gastroenterology team works together to understand your individual needs and provide advanced, fully integrated treatments. The team meets regularly to discuss your progress and modify your treatment accordingly.

When you arrive at our hospital, your care team will review your symptoms with you and obtain a health history. Then, we’ll use state-of-the-art diagnostic tools and interventional procedures to evaluate the tumor(s). We usually get diagnostic test results back within one to two days. Using the results, we’ll work with you to identify treatments that are suited to your specific needs.

Treatment advances

We provide a full range of treatment options for GI cancers. The team uses some of the latest technologies to look at the GI tract in different and minimally invasive ways.

We’re committed to finding options for each patient, including those with stage III or IV disease. We can apply innovative techniques and ablative treatments to help remove obstructions in the GI tract and relieve pain or breathing problems.

For example, for pancreatic cancer patients, we can perform therapeutic endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) to relieve pain, deliver intratumoral chemotherapy or drain pancreatic pseudocysts (fluid build-up around the pancreas). We can also use EUS to place fiducial markers in pancreatic masses prior to radiation therapy for more precise targeting of tumors.

What cancers does the gastroenterology team treat?

The gastroenterology team provides advanced cancer treatments for any cancer that affects the GI tract. This includes esophageal, gastric, pancreatic, liver and colorectal cancers. The team also treats cancers that have metastasized to the GI tract, such as lung or breast cancer.

Helping you manage side effects

Some common side effects of cancer treatment are pain, nausea, decreased appetite, fatigue, constipation and diarrhea. We recognize that these symptoms can delay or interrupt your treatment and interfere with your ability to fight the disease.

Throughout your treatment, your care team will use multiple measures to help reduce symptoms. For example, we may prescribe anti-nausea medications prior to treatment to manage nausea. We also work with your dietitian to support your dietary needs so you get the nourishment you need.

To reduce pain, we may prescribe medications or other methods. We can also use EUS to perform celiac plexus neurolysis (CPN), a procedure that blocks nerves in order to alleviate pain.

In addition to nutrition therapy and pain management, your care team provides other supportive care services throughout your treatment, such as naturopathic medicine, oncology rehabilitation and mind-body medicine, to help keep you strong, reduce side effects and improve your well-being.

The GI team at CTCA at Midwestern

The gastroenterology team at CTCA at Midwestern Regional Medical Center (Midwestern) is led by experts who diagnose, stage and treat gastrointestinal cancers as well as precancerous conditions such as Barrett’s esophagus, a risk factor for esophageal cancer. The team includes:

  • Pankaj Vashi, MD, Chairman of the Department of Medicine at CTCA and Medical Director of Gastroenterology and Nutrition & Metabolic Support at CTCA at Midwestern: A graduate of the University of Bombay in India and fellowship-trained in gastroenterology at the University of Michigan, Dr. Vashi is an active researcher whose work has been presented at symposiums, round-table sessions, international conferences and peer-reviewed journals.
  • Ravi Prakash, MD, MRCP:  Also born, raised and trained in India, Dr. Prakash has extensive training in interventional endoscopy, with expertise in endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, endoscopic ultrasound, cryotherapy, radiofrequency ablation, enteral staining and endosutures, among other procedures. He completed fellowships in endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, endoscopic ultrasound and gastroenterology & hepatology and is board certified in internal medicine and gastroentrerology.

Learn more about the Barrett's esophagus treatment program at CTCA at Midwestern.

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