Dr. Michael Ujiki offers expertise in minimally invasive surgery, advanced technology that provides GI cancer patients the latest options.
NorthShore University HealthSystem (NorthShore) is a leader in colorectal cancer treatment and our focus is personalized care for each individual patient with a particular emphasis on prevention and early detection. Our gastroenterology (GI) program provides treatment for all GI and related cancers, and our team approach ensures excellent care for rare and more complicated cases.
NorthShore’s multidisciplinary, high-risk colorectal cancer clinic offers patients who have a family history or other risk factors for colorectal cancer the opportunity to meet with specialists representing medical genetics, gastroenterology, colorectal surgery and nutrition. Personalized screening plans specific to individual medical and family history are developed and patients have the benefit of the latest resources and combined expertise. Highly qualified and specially trained nurses help patients stay connected and educated throughout the continuum of care.
Our exemplary Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system ensures that specialists across disciplines are in constant and real-time communication about patient treatment plans and progress.
For patients who require surgery, a host of advanced techniques and minimally invasive approaches are available as NorthShore’s surgeons are at the leading-edge of this technology.
Laparoscopic procedures are used for the majority of our patients, and our team of surgeons continues to expand minimally invasive options, including robotic surgery and scarless, or transanal and transoral procedures.
Our focus on personalized care is backed by our capacity in molecular medicine. NorthShore’s molecular diagnostic laboratory, led by Karen Kaul, MD, PhD, is working to advance knowledge and our ability to use molecular testing to determine the most appropriate therapy based on the specific nature of an individual tumor.
Our Center for Medical Genetics is a key player in our efforts to aid discovery of tumor types and effective therapeutic treatment, as well as to continue enhancing our services for high-risk patients. Every newly diagnosed colon cancer case is tested for Lynch Syndrome, a genetic mutation that increases risk for colon and other cancers.
Improving Screening, Advancing Care
An ongoing focus on improving quality for colorectal screening means our physicians stay ahead of the curve. To that end, our GI specialists are improving colonoscopies with:
- Slower, more careful inspection on withdrawal of the colonoscope, given studies that show increased polyp detection rates with longer withdrawal times.
- Attention to the quality of colonoscopy preparations, including split dosing (part the day before and part on the day of the procedure) and use of an irrigation pump to improve visualization.
- Encouraging adherence to published guidelines regarding the appropriate frequency of colonoscopy in order to avoid over-use and under-use of screening and surveillance colonoscopy.
NorthShore is involved in the latest technological improvements for colonoscopies with a current interest in magnification colonoscopy, which uses optical zooming to increase the degree of detail that can be seen; dye spraying techniques that highlight abnormalities of the colonic lining; and “optical biopsy” techniques, which allow real-time visualization of structures at the cellular level during colonoscopy.
Improved techniques in radiation, including stereotactic radiosurgery for some early stage cancers, provide more options for our patients.
Innovative research is a key component of our program and we regularly participate in both early stage studies for new and cutting-edge therapies and large national Phase III studies helping to enhance current options.
Our academic affiliation with the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine allows for even more collaborative research efforts, all aimed at improved prevention, detection and treatment of GI cancers.
Medical oncologist Jennifer Obel, MD, is currently leading efforts on a new study related to management of resectable colon cancer that has spread to the liver.
NorthShore offers a Women’s GI Risk and Prevention Center to address gender differences and barriers to critical cancer prevention strategies for women. Led by Laura Bianchi, MD, the Center’s clinical program counsels women about their personal risk for GI cancers and offers an individualized approach to risk reduction including lifestyle modifications.
For more information, call 847.570.4104 or 847.570.2515.
Fighting a Rare and Aggressive Cancer and Winning the Battle
Meg C. is one of those exceptional people who truly believe that her cancer happened for a good reason and can teach her important lessons.
Surgeon Dr. Marshall Baker, nurse navigator Margaret Whalen and oncologist Dr. Robert Marsh
After undergoing three surgical procedures in six weeks, intraperitoneal chemotherapy and 12 rounds of systemic chemotherapy, Meg still maintains, “I believe bad things are tools to learn life lessons, I welcome this.”
Her positive attitude, along with excellent medical care, helped Meg battle a rare appendix, or appendicial cancer, with tremendous results. The 45-year-old mother of three teenagers ended up in the Emergency Department at NorthShore Evanston Hospital with excruciating pain due to a herniated disc in her back. The back issue was another gift in disguise, as a CAT scan revealed abnormalities in her appendix.
Emergency surgery to remove her appendix led to the discovery and diagnosis of the rare cancer. “This cancer was aggressive, it had replaced her appendix,” said NorthShore surgeon Marshall Baker, MD.
Following her initial surgery at NorthShore Evanston Hospital, Meg was persuaded by a friend who had recently undergone successful cancer treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to travel there for the next stage of her treatment. Physicians recommended an aggressive approach, and she had another surgery at Sloan Kettering to remove 63 lymph nodes, both ovaries and fallopian tubes, omentum, part of her colon and part of the peritoneal membrane, and then received intraperitoneal chemotherapy. She was told she had Stage 4 cancer, but that it was treatable with the aggressive therapy.
Unfortunately, three weeks after Meg returned home she developed a bowel obstruction, a complication from the treatment. Dr. Baker once again performed surgery on Meg to relieve the obstruction and reconstruct the bowel.
Meg then decided to receive the rest of her treatment at NorthShore Kellogg Cancer Center with oncologist Robert Marsh, MD, who led her through months of systemic chemotherapy and, like Dr. Baker, is thrilled with her progress. “It’s incredible how well she is doing,” said Dr. Marsh.
Meg has high praise for the entire team of caregivers who have helped her through this herculean battle. “Dr. Baker and his staff are all great, the interns, the residents, everyone,” she said. A bowel obstruction and a 12-day hospital stay aside Meg said she still ended up “laughing and joking” with her doctors and nurses.
And when it came time to start chemotherapy at NorthShore Kellogg Cancer Center, she felt equally at ease with the medical oncology team—Dr. Marsh, nurse navigator Margaret Whalen, RN, and her chemotherapy nurses were all wonderfully caring and available whenever she had questions, according to Meg.
“As soon as I walk in the door at Kellogg and see the smiling greeters, I feel like I am walking into a place where people care,” Meg said. “You can bond with the people there, and I have.”
“To go through all that she has, and end up in the good condition she is, is remarkable,” said Dr. Baker.