Colorectal and GI Cancers

Metastatic Colorectal Cancer Specialty Care

Treating Difficult Colorectal and GI Cancers

No colorectal cancer is the same and a diagnosis affects each person differently. Developing an effective treatment plan requires input from a variety of specialists.

Your colorectal cancer team is comprised of specialists who review your specific situation and work together to determine the most appropriate treatment plan, tailored to you.

Metastatic Colorectal Cancer Specialty Care at UPMC CancerCenter brings together experts in:

  • Surgical, medical, radiation, and interventional oncology
  • Nutrition
  • Pain management
  • Palliative care

Conditions We Treat

Cancer of the peritoneal cavity


Comprehensive Treatment Planning

Metastatic Colorectal Cancer Specialty Care at UPMC CancerCenter brings together a multidisciplinary team of leading experts in:

Your care team develops treatment strategies in tandem with your referring physician. Treatments often involve surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of treatments and clinical trials when appropriate.

Liver metastasis

Colorectal cancer often spreads (metastasizes) through the bloodstream to the liver.

The first step in treating your liver metastasis from colorectal cancer often is a liver resection, or surgical removal of a portion of your liver to remove as much as the tumor as possible. When liver resection is not feasible, a number of newly developed surgical treatments may be used instead:

Cancer of the Peritoneal Cavity

Cancer in the peritoneal cavity can be difficult to treat because it spreads hundreds of tiny seed-like tumors throughout the abdomen. Traditional chemotherapy usually is not an effective treatment for this cancer because the medication becomes too diluted to kill the cancer cells by the time it reaches the abdomen through the blood stream.

For this type of cancer, we offer cytoreductive surgery with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemoperfusion (HIPEC) a promising treatment for this challenging cancer.

Targeted Therapies

Targeted therapies are innovative approaches to treat metastatic colorectal cancer. Unlike traditional methods, such as chemotherapy and radiation, targeted therapies attack specific proteins released by the tumors and stop the growth and division of cancer cells.

Target therapies, when used in conjunction with traditional chemotherapy, have been shown to be more effective than chemotherapy alone in the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer. We offer:

Advanced Molecular Testing

UPMC CancerCenter pathologists perform molecular tests on all colorectal distant metastases for which tissue is available. The tests detect mutations in genes involved in the EGFR pathway. This testing determines which tumors will respond to targeted therapy and which ones will not.

Pathologists use a defined algorithm, beginning with molecular microsatellite instability (MSI) testing to detect patients who may have Lynch Syndrome, a form of inherited colorectal cancer.

Radiation Therapy

Although generally not used in the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer, radiation therapy can, on occasion, be combined with chemotherapy either before surgery to shrink tumors or after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells. If needed, patients have access to:

Supportive Services

  • Clinical trials for patients with advanced disease
  • Genetic counseling
  • Genetic testing
  • Nutritional
  • Pathology, including molecular diagnostics
  • Psychological counseling

What to Expect

If you are a newly diagnosed patient, you will work with a coordinator who will serve as the point person for the treatment team. The coordinator will review your history and make appropriate appointments based on your needs and your team's recommendations.

You will receive care at Hillman Cancer Center in Pittsburgh.

The center's multidisciplinary cancer team will:

Through UPMC CancerCenter's community network, you may be able to receive treatment and follow-up care closer to your home.

To learn more about Colorectal and GI Cancer Specialty Care, or to schedule an appointment, please call 412-647-2811.

Our Experts

Metastatic Colorectal Cancer Specialty Care experts have extensive experience in treating colorectal cancer.

Medical Oncology

Surgical Oncology

Radiation Oncology

Interventional Radiology

  • Rupal Bandi, MD
  • Christopher Friend, MD
  • Kevin McCluskey, MD — Contact
  • Ernesto Santos, MD — Contact

Palliative Care/Pain Management

  • Julie Childers, MD
  • Rene Claxton, MD
  • M. Hamza Habib, MD
  • Linda King, MD
  • Eva Reitschuler-Cross, MD
  • Sue Jessell, CRNP

Other Members of Our Team

Experts Specialize in
Pain management physicians different techniques to relieve, reduce, or manage chronic pain during and after your treatment
Palliative care therapists relief of the symptoms and stress caused by advanced cancer to improve your quality of life
Pathologists the diagnosis of cancer by examining cells in the organs, tissues, or bodily fluids
Radiologists imaging techniques, such as x-rays, and CT, MRI, and PET scans, to diagnose and treat cancer