University of California cancer centers teaming up to improve access, outcomes

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Sixteen percent of all Californians diagnosed with cancer are currently being treated at one of five University of California centers.

Now, all five are teaming up to improve access and outcomes. "But until now, we haven't thought of these centers as a collective, said UC President, Janet Napolitano who recently battled cancer herself.

The cancer centers have adopted the old adage, "together we rise."

Led by Napolitano, the five centers announced a new model for cancer research and treatment.

So for example, in the case of clinical trials, instead of having one cancer center involved, the new model would strive for trials system wide.

"By combining forces we can open clinical trials in a much faster way across the whole system giving patients more choice and availability of new treatments," UCSF Cancer Center President Alan Ashworth, Ph.D, said. "And so previously we were going along in parallel channels, now we are going along together."

Dr. Charles Ryan is a UCSF oncologist who says sharing data sets will help researchers make new discoveries. "Certainly we are entering a phase where the development of shared genomic information can really lead to important discoveries and identify patients for new therapy," Helen Diller Family Cancer Center's Dr. Charles Ryan, M.D., said.

This collaboration will help the entire system come up with a better strategy to improve a patient's outcome.

By joining forces, the five centers will also work on cancer prevention programs at a much needed time.

What worries many researchers is that cancer will soon overtake heart disease as California's leading cause of death.

Researchers say they have reached a point where the only way to make advances is through collaboration.

The five centers are UCSF, UCLA, U.C. Irvine, U.C. Davis and U.C. San Diego.
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