Gastrointestinal cancer

Gastrointestinal cancer causes >25% of cancer death in the western world, Once cancer has been diagnosed, standard surgical and medical oncological therapy regimens are followed. For both gastric and colorectal cancer we and others have demonstrated the existence of substantial genomic variation, which correlates to clinical outcome. Yet, the standard therapy regimens largely neglect the existence and relevance of this genomic variation. 
The aim of our program is to improve outcome of gastrointestinal cancer by stratification of GI cancer patients based on tumor profiles for optimized therapy selection. In addition, we use liquid biopsy technology for diagnosis, disease monitoring and response prediction.

For long, surgery has been the only curative treatment for gastrointestinal cancer, but new systemic therapies are being introduced. Up until now the type of treatment largely depends on stage of the disease. However, our group has shown that gastric and colorectal carcinomas are heterogeneous in their molecular profiles depending on many patient and tumor characteristics. The interplay between molecular tumor characteristics and the tumor microenvironment could explain why clinical outcome varies between patients with similar stage of disease. For several biological factors like microsatellite instability (MSI) and a number of chromosomal aberrations an association with response to systemic therapy or prognosis has been determined. Detailed genomic characterization of tumors and their microenvironment is expected to further stratify individual patients for the optimal treatment strategy. 


Nicole van Grieken MD PhD -  project leader 

Department of Pathology 
VU University Medical Center, ZH 0 E 21
PO Box 7057
1007 MB  Amsterdam
The Netherlands

Hedde Biesma MD-PhD student 
Tanya Soeratram MD-PhD student 
Daisy Hoek Technician

Research projects

Microsatellite instability as a marker of poor survival in patients with resectable gastric cancer when treated with perioperative chemotherapy. ZonMw 848101003

Identification of patients with resectable gastro-esophageal adenocarcinoma with best chances of response to immune checkpoint inhibition therapy. KWF 2016-II / 10316.

Multicentre randomised phase III trial of neoadjuvant chemotherapy vs. chemotherapy/chemoradiotherapy vs. chemoradiotherapy followed by surgery in resectable gastric cancer (CRITICS-II). KWF 2016-I /10327.

ctDNA (liquid biopsy) as marker for patients with peritoneal metastases from colorectal cancer, a clinical feasibility study. VUmc-CCA 2016-4-08

Feasibility of free circulating tumour DNA as a tool for diagnosis and disease monitoring in patients with resectable gastric cancer. VUmc-CCA 2015-5-24