The UC Davis Cancer Center recently announced the launch of the new Cancer Care Network geared to provide quality treatment to patients in community-based areas in Northern and Central California.
Planning for the network began in 2000 when UC Davis joined with two local California health care organizations in Merced and Marysville to develop cancer programs, said Scott Christensen, UC Davis associate professor of hematology and oncology and the future medical director of the new network.
“Both of those cities were felt to be underserved in terms of cutting-edge therapies … so we got together and put together two cancer centers,” Christensen said.
Since then, UC Davis partnered with other medical centers in Northern California to provide medical oncology-related services; the Cancer Care Network now includes Mercy Cancer Center in Merced, Regional Cancer Center at ValleyCare in Pleasanton, Fremont-Rideout Cancer Center in Marysville, and Tahoe Forest Cancer Center in Truckee.
Under the partnership, the local health care organization provides the onsite staffing for to day-to-day management, nursing, and other health professions, while UC Davis provides physician services and medical management and direction.
“The advantage of this network of cancer centers is that patients can receive treatment in a relatively close location,” said Karen Finney, spokesperson for the UC Davis Cancer Center.
At the moment, some cancer patients have to travel an extensive distance for their treatment. The UC Davis Cancer Center Network aims to be the answer to this problem.
“It’s really hard when you’re diagnosed with a malignancy to travel 40 minutes in traffic [for treatment],” Christensen said. “So, to be able to receive everything that you need, and receive access to clinical trial-based therapy in a much more convenient location [is] what we are all about.”
Besides the increasing accessibility to cancer centers, the network is unique because instead of entering a community and enforcing its own regulations, UC Davis has been invited and partners with the health care institutions already in the area to help best meet the local needs, Christensen said.
In addition, the network uses state-of-the-art telemedicine technology with its “virtual tumor boards.” This technology links each cancer center to one another, not only to make communication easy, but also allow other oncologists and physicians a chance to view specific cases and give their diagnoses. These regional cancer center physicians can contact UC Davis specialists on patient-care issues in order to conduct consultations with patients via real-time video conferencing.
“Capitalizing on our noted expertise in telemedicine, our ‘virtual tumor boards‘ allow patients to get what we are loosely calling a virtual second opinion, which we hope will increase clinical trial enrollment, patient satisfaction, and other measures,” Christensen said.
The UC Davis Medical Center also has satellite clinics in the greater Sacramento area that are not affiliated with other health care organizations, such as the new cancer center in Rocklin. Plans to expand these satellite sites to other Sacramento areas are still in the making.
As the nation’s 61st National Cancer Institute center, the UC Davis Cancer Center treats more than 9,000 adults and children with cancer each year, according to the UC Davis Cancer Center’s website. Located on X Street in Sacramento, it coordinates with the UC Davis Medical Center and the UC Davis Children’s hospital to offer patients today’s newest drugs and breakthrough treatments before they become widely available.
NICK MARWITH can be reached at email@example.com