For Wake County patient referrals, call the referring provider team Monday through Friday, between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at 919-485-1900 or email OncologyReferral@Duke.edu.
New GI medical oncologist adds capacity, focuses on provider relationships
Aman Opneja, MD, has joined Duke Cancer Institute (DCI) as an assistant professor of Medicine and a GI medical oncologist who sees patients at Duke Cancer Centers in Raleigh and Durham.
“Our GI oncology team at Duke Raleigh consists of radiation oncology, surgical oncology, and medical oncology specialists with a GI focus,” said Opneja. “We welcome the newly diagnosed and anyone seeking a second opinion. Cancer care can be complex and having a second opinion with multidisciplinary input can sometimes help streamline the treatment plan.”
Opneja is collaborative in his relationship with referring providers. “My approach is not to create a competition,” he said. “They should be comfortable sending me their patients. It’s important that we have cross-communication and maintain a relationship. Our shared goal is to provide patients with the best cancer care.”
As associate director of Clinical Research for Wake County GI Oncology, Opneja is working closely with DCI investigators to bring clinical trials to Wake County. This will help patients access newer therapies and more treatment options closer to home.
While colorectal cancer, Opneja’s area of research interest, remains the number 2 cancer killer in the U.S. and in North Carolina, survival rates overall are increasing with advancements in screening, testing, and treatment. Opneja noted, however, that a demographic shift in the colorectal cancer patient population presents a new set of challenges. Adults in their early 50s or younger now make up 20% of new cases, nearly double the rate measured in 1995.
“Not only has there been an increase in younger patients, but colorectal cancer in this demographic tends to be characterized by higher-grade tumors and late diagnoses. This poses a unique challenge in management of this disease,” said Opneja, who’s treated colorectal cancer patients of all ages. “Everyone is asking, ‘Why is this happening? Is their cancer biology that different?’”
Opneja, who is fluent in Hindi and Punjabi, completed medical school in India, his internal medicine residency at Johns Hopkins University/Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, and a HemeOnc fellowship at Case Western Reserve University/University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center.
Following his training, he spent three years as a clinical instructor at the University of Washington/WWAMI Medical Education Program and staff oncologist at the federally funded Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage (2019-2022). There he gained extensive experience treating Alaska Native people, who have high rates of GI cancers, including the highest rate of colorectal cancer in the world.