UA Gastroenterology, Cancer Center Partner to Put ‘Spotlight on Stomach Cancer’

Banner image of graphic promoting Spotlight on Stomach Cancer Symposium, Oct. 26, 2019, at the University of ArizonaThe University of Arizona Division of Gastroenterology and the UA Cancer Center have partnered with No Stomach For Cancer, a non-profit group that raises awareness, funds research and advances education about stomach cancer, to host a “Spotlight on Stomach Cancer Symposium” at the UA Health Sciences campus on Saturday, Oct. 26.

This FREE event is open to the general public, patients and caregivers. See a confirmed speakers list below, including specialists from the Harvard/Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and Winslow Indian Health Care Center in Winslow, Ariz.

Based in Madison, Wis., No Stomach For Cancer has raised almost $575,000 toward stomach cancer research in the 10 years of its existence, also helping families overcome the fear and challenges of diagnosis through its global advocacy.

The Oct. 26 patient-caregiver-physician-researcher interactive program runs from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the HSIB Forum at the Health Sciences Innovation Building, 1670 E. Drachman St. A reception will follow at 5:30 p.m. at the Arizona Inn, 2200 E. Elm St.

This symposium offers an excellent opportunity for those in the stomach cancer community, medical community and general public to come together to learn more about stomach cancer and connect with others impacted by this disease.


To add this event to your personal schedule (via iCal, MSOutlook, Google or Yahoo! Calendar), click here. A full program and agenda will be posted at the preceding link soon.

What to Expect

Drs. Juanita Merchant and Rachna ShroffThe day will focus on hot topics relevant to diagnosis and management of gastric or stomach cancer, an understudied disease with limited therapeutic options, said primary local organizer Juanita Merchant, MD, PhD, a UA professor of medicine and chief, Division of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, and member, Cancer Biology Research Program, UA Cancer Center.

“Stomach cancer remains the fifth most common cancer and third leading cause of cancer mortality worldwide,” Dr. Merchant said. “The University of Arizona was selected by the non-profit foundation No Stomach For Cancer as the site of its 2019 Fall Conference to raise awareness of this deadly cancer in Hispanic and Native American populations, highlighting its rise in the U.S. Southwest. Speakers include internationally prominent UA and invited faculty who care for patients and are researching diagnostic/therapeutic interventions for this understudied cancer. The conference also will receive local support from the Art Chapa Foundation for Gastric Cancer Prevention.”

Rachna Shroff, MD, associate professor of medicine in the UA Division of Hematology & Oncology and UA Cancer Center section chief, GI Medical Oncology, and director, Clinical Trials Office, said her team is delighted to work with the Division of Gastroenterology and No Stomach for Cancer on the symposium.

“The message we are trying to get out is that there is a lot of work going into improving outcomes for stomach cancer and that the care of these patients really requires a concerted multidisciplinary approach,” Dr. Shroff said.

“We hope that the patients, caregivers and providers who attend will feel the optimism we share about what is on the horizon and recognize the importance of coming to a Comprehensive Cancer Center like UA Cancer Center for cutting-edge treatments and clinical trials.”

EXTRA INFO: Gastric, or Stomach Cancer – By the Numbers Stages of stomach cancer (Image Source: Cancer Research UK/Wikimedia – click to enlarge)

According to Cancer.Net, a website of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, an estimated 27,510 people (17,230 men and 10,280 women) will be diagnosed with stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer, in the United States this year. Globally, that figure jumps to 1 million, reports the World Cancer Research Fund, which notes stomach cancer is the fifth most common form of cancer. Age, diet, lifestyle and stomach disease can affect the risk of developing it. Stomach cancer occurs most often in older people, about 60 percent of whom are above age 64 when diagnosed. About 11,000 Americans will die from the disease this year. Learn more: National Cancer Institute | American Cancer Society.

At right, stages of stomach cancer graphic (Image Source: Cancer Research UK/Wikimedia – click to enlarge)

Current Program & Agenda

Dr. Adam Bass, Harvard/Dana-Farber Cancer InstituteThe keynote speaker for the event will be Adam Bass, MD, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, a member of the Harvard Digestive Diseases Center and the Division of Cellular and Molecular Oncology at Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Institute (DF/HCC) and co-leader of the DF/HCC Gastrointestinal Malignancies Program. His topic will be: “Genomic Analysis for Cancer, Especially the Familial Syndrome.”

Two speakers also will focus on how special populations in Southern Arizona and the Southwest are impacted by stomach cancer:

  • Dorothy Long Parma, MD, MPH Drs. Dorothy Long Parma, UTHealth San Antonio, and Gregory Jarrin, Winslow Indian Health Care Center| assistant professor, Institute for Health Promotion Research, Department of Population Health Sciences, UTHealth San Antonio School of Medicine – presenter: H. pylori in Hispanic Populations”
  • Gregory Jarrin, MD | assistant professor, UA Department of Surgery, and general surgeon, Winslow Indian Health Care Center Inc., Winslow, Ariz. – presenter: H. pylori & Gastric Cancer in Native Americans.” 

Image illustrating Salud America article on rising gastric cancer among LatinosDr. Long Parma recently won a three-year, $360,000 “Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program Career Development Award” from the U.S. Department of Defense to study the risk factors for gastric cancer and why it’s rising in Latinos. See this May 2019 article from Salud America to learn more about that.

Among other confirmed participants for the symposium are:

  • Juanita L. Merchant, MD, PhD | professor of medicine and chief, UA Division of Gastroenterology – moderator: “Impact of the Genome on Risk, Diagnosis and Family”
  • Rachna Shroff, MD, MS – associate professor of medicine (Hematology & Oncology), section chief, GI Medical Oncology, and director,Drs. Aaron Scott and Hemanth Gavini Clinical Trials Office, UA Cancer Center – moderator: “Multi-Disciplinary Treatment Approaches” 
  • Aaron Scott, MD | assistant professor of medicine (Hematology & Oncology), UA Division of Hematology & Oncology – moderator: “Healthy Living without a Stomach,” and presenter: “Systemic Therapy for Advanced Disease”
  • Hemanth Gavini, MD, MPH | assistant professor of medicine (Gastroenterology) and surgery, UA College of Medicine – Tucson – presenter: “Non-Surgical Treatment of Early Cancer”
  • Lauren Maynard, MS, CGC | Drs. Lauren Maynard and Emad ElquzaCertified Genetic Counselor, UA Cancer Center – Tucson – presenter: “Genetic Counseling”
  • Emad Elquza, MD | associate professor of medicine (Hematology & Oncology), leader, GI Multidisciplinary Team, and medical director, UA Cancer Center North Campus and Orange Grove Campus – presenter: “Peri-Operative Treatments for Cure”
  • Robin Harris, PhD, MPH | professor (Epidemiology & Biostatistics), UA Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health; co-director, UA Skin Cancer Institute, and research member, Cancer Prevention & Control Program, UA Cancer Center – Tucson – moderator: “Infectious Causes in Vulnerable Populations”
  • Michelle Bratton, RD Dr. Robin Harris and Michelle Bratton, a registered dietitian| nutritionist, UA Cancer Center – Tucson – presenter: “Living with Stomach Cancer: Nutrition & Health.”

Other elements of the program will include Patient Perspectives and Q&A Panel Discussions that include caregivers. Welcome, opening and closing remarks will be delivered by the No Stomach For Cancer board chair Dylan Davison, an Ironman triathlete who'd had his stomach removed due to cancer, and Dr. Merchant.

NOTE: Due to a conflicting engagement, Dr. Elquza will not be presenting at this event.


For those traveling to Tucson from out of town, discounted hotel accommodations are available at the:

Graphic on number of people diagnosed per year with stomach cancer being greater than the population of MontanaHoliday Inn Express & Suites 
1564 W. Grant Road, Tucson AZ 85745
Tel: (520) 624-3200

The title sponsor for the event is RedHill Biopharma.

For questions about the program, please contact Jon Florin, executive director, No Stomach for Cancer, at Other questions can be directed to Katherine Sepulveda, administrative associate, Division of Gastroenterology,

“Nogales Father, Son Offer Patient/Caregiver View at Spotlight on Stomach Cancer Symposium” | Posted Oct. 23, 2019

Release Date: 
09/18/2019 - 9:45am