Gastrointestinal surgical oncology

Within this line of research, the 'Experimental Surgery Research Group' conducts a number of clinical studies, aimed at investigating the developmental mechanisms and treatment of peritoneal carcinomatosis. In addition, the option of sentinel lymph node detection in patients with colon cancer is explored.

Research projects

OVIP study: Intraoperative Intraperitoneal Chemoperfusion to treat Peritoneal Minimal Residual Disease in stage III Ovarian Cancer: a Randomized Phase II Trial

This clinical study aims to determine whether a lower dose and/or lower rinsing temperature used during the administration of abdominal cavity chemotherapy (HIPEC) is as efficient and possibly safer.


MMT study: Role of the peritoneal microenvironment in the pathogenesis and spread of colorectal carcinomatosis

Several studies highlight the importance of the complex interactions between malignant cells and peritoneal cells in colon cancer. The process of transition from a mesothelial to mesenchymal phenotype (MMT) has been suggested in the recruitment of cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) from peritoneal mesothelial cells. These CAFs modulate the composition of the extracellular matrix and are thought to play a vital role in several metastatic processes including adhesion, invasion and angiogenesis. This project aims to research the role of MMT and CAFs in the pathogenesis of colorectal peritoneal carcinomatosis.


MINIMAL study: Minimally Invasive colon cancer surgery through immunomics and optical mapping of the sentinel lymph node

Surgery to remove a large section of the bowel and as many surrounding lymph nodes as possible is the current standard of care for colon cancer. A more limited removal of the gut and lymph nodes might be sufficient, but this has never been investigated. Depending on the results in this study, sentinel gland detection in colon cancer may indicate that this extensive tissue removal is useless. As a second important aspect, the project can significantly improve our understanding of the composition of the immune cells in the lymph nodes, which is suggested to change as lymph nodes metastasize.


BEVIP study: perioperative chemotherapy with bevacizumab in patients undergoing cytoreductive surgery and intraperitoneal chemoperfusion for peritoneal cancer from colon cancer

This clinical study aims to determine whether a combination of chemotherapy with bevacizumab (Avastin®) (a type of specific, targeted cancer treatment that inhibits the growth of tumour blood vessels) before and after surgery for colorectal peritoneal carcinomatosis results in acceptable morbidity and mortality.


Research into the composition of the peritoneal microenvironment in colorectal peritoneal carcinomatosis

In clinical samples, the identification of (especially immune) cells involved in colorectal peritoneal carcinomatosis will be analysed by flow cytometry. In addition, single-cell transcriptomics will be used to determine the genetic 'barcode' of the cancer cells (both in the primary tumour and in the metastases) and the associated stromal cells (CAFs, immune, endothelial and mesothelial cells) in order to characterize the tumour microenvironment.


There are partnerships with research groups from the faculties of Pharmacy, Engineering and Sciences of Ghent University, but also with the VIB (a life sciences research institute based in Flanders), Ghent University Hospital, and various national, European and international partners.



  • Sarah Cosyns, postdoctoral assistant

+32 9 332 15 62