Gastrointestinal (GI) Cancers

Dr. Brett Sheppard is a surgeon and co-director of OHSU’s Brenden-Colson Center for Pancreatic Care. He is one of the world’s leading experts on pancreatic cancer care and research.
Dr. Brett Sheppard, one of our expert surgeons and researchers for gastrointestinal cancers, sees treating cancer as calling. “My patients have taught me so much. How to be brave in the face of adversity. They’ve taught me how to love. They’ve taught me how to care for others.”

You’ll find a team of experts in GI cancers at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. Our treatments include minimally invasive surgeries, immunotherapies and tissue-sparing options.

Our care also includes:

  • The highest level of expertise for GI cancers.
  • Team-based care, with cancer doctors, gastroenterologists and other specialists working together.
  • One of the world’s few centers to fully join treatment and research for pancreatic cancer patients.
  • Every provider you might need, from cancer dietitians to palliative care experts.
  • Treatments unavailable elsewhere in Oregon or southwest Washington.

Innovative treatments

We offer the highest level of care for gastrointestinal cancers.

Minimally invasive surgery: Our surgeons are skilled at removing some GI cancers through small incisions. Sometimes there is no incision at all. This offers you faster recovery and less pain.

Protecting your function: When possible, we strive to:

  • Preserve your nerves and sphincters.
  • Restore your digestive tract.
  • Create a new stomach pouch if necessary.

Liver treatments: We are the only liver transplant center in Oregon. We’re also one of the few hospitals in the Pacific Northwest to offer hepatic arterial infusion (HAI) therapy for liver cancer.

HIPEC surgery: If your cancer has spread, you may benefit from this innovative combination of surgery and chemotherapy. Learn more about HIPEC surgery.

Molecular profiling: We map the genetic traits of some tumors. This lets us match treatments to your specific cancer.

Immunotherapies: Our options include medications that free your immune system to fight some GI tumors. Medications for colorectal cancer, for example, can disable the tumor’s ability to hide from the immune system.

Advanced radiation therapy: Image-guided equipment helps us track your tumor during therapy, sparing healthy tissue. We can also shape radiation to your tumor’s contours. For some GI tumors, radiation during surgery is an option.

Vascular surgery: Our surgeons include experts in repairing blood vessels. Our vascular and cancer surgeons work together to take out challenging pancreatic tumors.

Our excellence

Complete care: We've earned the National Cancer Institute’s top designation for our leadership in finding new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat all types of cancer. Our doctors and scientists strive to bring discoveries in the lab to patients as quickly as possible.

Highest levels of expertise: The American Cancer Society recommends a major cancer center for stomach and pancreatic tumors. We give you the top level of experience and skill for even the most complicated GI cancers. We also offer one of the world’s leading experts in GISTs (gastrointestinal stromal tumors).

Expert diagnoses: Patients come to us for precise testing and answers. Our gastroenterologists, radiologists and pathologists are among the most experienced in the Northwest. Our interventional endoscopists do hundreds of endoscopic ultrasounds a year.

You will be cared for by a team of specialists. They will consider every option, including clinical trials.

Working face to face: Your doctors, nurses and other specialists work together. They hold meetings called tumor boards to look at your test results and consider treatment options as a group.

Skilled nursing care: You will be cared for by nurses with expertise in your cancer type. They will answer your questions, help arrange appointments, and connect you with services.

Cancer dietitians: You will find dietitians trained in cancer care. They can help you manage the effects on nutrition of cancer and treatment. They can also help you prepare for and recover from surgery.

The palliative care team at OHSU Knight Cancer Institute
OHSU’s palliative care team helps patients and their families at any stage of serious illness.

Palliative care: Experts in palliative care can help you and your family with pain, stress and other issues. Our palliative team is available at any stage of cancer care.

Ostomy expertise: If you need a temporary or permanent ostomy, you will have care with trained nurses. (An ostomy allows you to expel stool through an opening in your belly.) They can help you manage anxiety and return to your activities.

Genetic counseling and testing: Some GI cancers are linked to conditions passed down in families. Our medical geneticists can help you identify and manage any risk.

Complementary medicine: The Knight Cancer Institute provides acupuncture for cancer. Studies show that acupuncture can relieve some treatment side effects.

Clinical trials and research

OHSU is a world leader in cancer and pancreatic research. The Knight Cancer Institute has hundreds of clinical trials to test new approaches.

Clinical trials: Your care team will talk with you about any clinical trial that could help you. We offer trials for every stage of cancer.

Top designation: The Knight Cancer Institute has earned the National Cancer Institute’s top honor for research excellence. We are the only Comprehensive Cancer Center between Seattle and Sacramento.

The entry way to the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute
The Knight Cancer Research Building is on OHSU’s South Waterfront Campus. It features labs and other spaces where scientists can work together.

Top-of-the-line labs: The Knight Cancer Institute opened a 320,000-square-foot cancer research building in 2018, bringing together hundreds of scientists. The building is designed to encourage collaboration.

Early detection: The Knight Cancer Research Building houses our Cancer Early Detection Advanced Research Center. Some of the world’s foremost cancer experts are working to find cancer when it’s most curable.

Pancreatic research: OHSU’s Brenden-Colson Center for Pancreatic Care is dedicated to preventing and treating pancreatic cancer, among other goals. For pancreatic cancer patients, scientists at the center are a key part of care.

Support services

You and your family will find every service you might need.

Cancer registries: OHSU cancer registries gather information and samples from patients. These databases give researchers a rich resource for study. You’ll find registries for colorectal, esophageal, liver and pancreatic cancers as well as for GISTs.

Life after cancer: We offer survivorship services to help you arrange follow-up appointments and manage side effects.

Social services: Our cancer social workers can help you with finances, counseling and other issues. OHSU also provides a Patient Navigator Program to help with lodging and other needs.

For patients

Call 503-494-7999  to:

  • Request an appointment
  • Seek a second opinion
  • Ask questions


Knight Cancer Institute, South Waterfront

Center for Health & Healing, Building 2
3485 S. Bond Ave.
Portland, OR 97239

Free parking for patients and visitors

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Cancer clinical trials

Clinical trials allow patients to try a new test or treatment.

Read more

Stay informed

Blog: Learn about the latest findings on our Cancer Translated blog.

News: Read about research breakthroughs, patient care and many other topics on our OHSU News site.