Digestive diseases on the rise

Gastrointestinal symptoms are among the most frequent complaints that bring a patient into a clinic or hospital.

Gastro-esophageal reflux and chronic inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, are often associated with severely impaired quality of life and complications, such as bleeding, obstruction, perforation, or even cancer formation. Hepatitis and liver cirrhosis also cause serious health problems that have life-altering and debilitating effects.

Cancers of the digestive tract, including the pancreas, colon, esophagus, stomach, and liver, are responsible for more than 120,000 deaths in the United States each year.

In some ethnic populations, digestive tract malignancies represent more than 50 percent of all cancer deaths. Most of these deaths are preventable because these cancers are curable if diagnosed early.

Targeted areas of research

We believe, along with our partners, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer 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.


The Biorepository and Registry form a research core that is actively collecting tissue samples and health information to improve our ability to care for patients.

Colorectal Cancer

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.

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).

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).

Inflammatory Bowel Diseases & Intestinal Cancer

Inflammatory bowel diseases are common and vexing problems. The causes and triggers for these conditions remain unclear, and consistently effective treatment continues to be elusive.


Shifts in our microbial ecosystem have been implicated in diseases of the GI tract such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and colorectal cancer (CRC).

Liver Diseases

With the increase of environmental chemicals, the ingestion of over-the-counter medication and unregulated health-food supplements, physicians are seeing an increased number of acute liver failures.

Pancreatitis & Pancreatic Cancer

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.