Study shows colon and rectal tumors constitute a single type of cancer

UNC scientists are part of an international team reporting results from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) project's large-scale study of colon and rectal cancer tissue specimens showing that the pattern of genomic alterations in these tissues is the same regardless of anatomic location, or origin within the colon or the rectum.


Todd Auman, PhD, a UNC member of the study’s writing team, says, “The comprehensive genomic profiling of colon and rectal cancers reported in this study has enabled us to identify potential signaling pathways which could be targets for selective chemotherapeutics. In addition, the data provided in this study will serve as a rich resource for other colorectal cancer researchers to explore in the future.”


Read full article.



Welcome Dr. Hanna Sanoff

Dr. Hanna Sanoff will join the Gastrointestinal Oncology Program on September 1, 2012.


Dr. Sanoff was a medical student at the University of Pennsylvania, completed a medical residency and a Hematology/Oncology fellowship at UNC-Chapel Hill, and has served on the faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill  and more recently at the University of Virginia.


Her research interests include clinical trials of new drugs and targeted agents for gastrointestinal cancers, the use of chemotherapy in the elderly, and the effectiveness of anticancer therapy in real world settings.


Clinical Trials Now Open


LCCC1036: New protocol combining an inhibitor of PI3 kinase (BKM120, Novartis) to standard chemotherapy. This is a new drug option using a drug that inhibits a pathway that is abnormally activated in many GI cancers.


LCCC 1029: Multi-Center, Randomized Placebo-Controlled Phase II Study of Regorafenib in Combination with FOLFIRI (Irinotecan, 5-Fluorouracil, and Leucovorin) versus Placebo and FOLFIRI as Second Line Therapy in Patients with Metastatic Colorectal Cancer. Regorafenib is a promising new drug for CRC that has already been shown to be effective as a single drug. This study aims to determine whether Regorafenib can improve upon results of standard chemotherapy. Read more (including brochure).

Bert O'Neil, MD, co-director of the Gastrointestinal Oncology Program and medical director of the UNC Lineberger Clinical Protocol Office, provides an overview of UNC's Gastrointestinal Oncology Program and UNC's commitment to clinical trials for these often complex patients. Watch video.


Upcoming Clinical Trials

A multi-disciplinary team led by Radiation Oncology faculty members Joel Tepper, MD and Andrew Wang, MD, as well as Radiation Oncology resident Seth Miller, MD (PGY-3) is developing a trial to examine the PET/MRI as a predictor for response to preoperative radiation therapy and chemotherapy in resectable rectal cancer. UNC is one of only four locations in the United States to have a PET/MRI machine. This pilot study seeks patients with T3 and/or node-positive rectal cancer to undergo a PET/MRI scan prior to and after chemoradiation to evaluate this imaging modality's ability to predict patients who experienced a complete response to neoadjuvant therapy. 


This protocol is not yet open, but has been submitted for committee review. Enrollment is expected to begin in fall 2012, and referrals can be made by contacting Seth Miller, MD, at or 919-445-5532.


MORAB-004-202-CRC: We are also about to open a trial of MORAb-004, a novel antibody therapy for refractory colorectal cancer. This is a novel antibody that targets the supportive stroma of cancer cells and is available to patients whose tumors have stopped responding to all standard therapies.



Contact Information

To make a referral to the Gastrointestinal Oncology Program, contact Susie Whorley at 919-966-9700.

For more information about clinical trials, contact Julie White at 919-966-4432.

UNC Lineberger    N.C. Cancer Hospital    Clinical Trials     Clinical Programs    Comprehensive Cancer Support


For questions about all clinical trials at UNC (including those at UNC that are also offered at other sites), contact the UNC Lineberger protocol office at 919-966-4432 or (toll-free) 1-877-668-0683.


To make an appointment at the N.C. Cancer Hospital for one of your patients, visit our web page for referring physicians. You may also contact the Carolina Consultation Center at 1-800-862-6264.