Patient Care

The UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center offers a complete array of diagnostic, treatment and follow-up care services, with more than 6,000 new cancer diagnoses in children and adults each year at UCSF.

“The physicians and staff at UCSF are dedicated to providing timely, compassionate and expert care,” says Peter Carroll, MD, MPH, director of strategic planning and clinical services at the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. “This care is built on a foundation of experience, focus and a commitment to providing innovative treatment options designed to extend lives and reduce the side effects of treatment.”

Peter R. Carroll, MD, MPH, chair of the Department of Urology, talks with patient Richard Crisman in a clinic at UCSF.

UCSF physicians and allied health care providers treat patients with all forms of cancer. The Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center website includes a medical care page with links to clinical services for the various cancer types.

Simply put, the cancer center offers:

  • Specialists who provide state-of-the-art care and are experienced with both standard and investigational treatments
  • Services to help reduce cancer risk for members of families with inherited forms of cancer
  • Training for the nation's most talented medical residents to advance the field
  • National leadership on committees that establish treatment guidelines for different types of cancer

Outcomes of medical procedures and treatment often are better at medical centers where the procedures are done most often. At UCSF, no matter what the cancer diagnosis, patients have immediate access to medical, surgical and radiation oncologists who specialize in that type of cancer.

These physicians are among the most knowledgeable and experienced in their specialties. They know how to best tailor treatment options to the individual patient. Physicians and other professional staff are experts who are experienced users of, and oftentimes the developers of, the best and most up-to-date medical technologies and procedures.

The staff at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center represents virtually every subspecialty in oncology, and includes many of the world’s experts in rare and complex cancer diagnoses. Medical oncologists at UCSF often go beyond standard, first-generation chemotherapy to tailor treatment to individual patients. This includes an emphasis on use of neoadjuvant drugs to counter microscopic metastases prior to surgery, and also the use of second-generation chemotherapies that are precisely targeted to molecules that play a role in the growth and spread of cancer cells.

UCSF leads or participates in many ongoing clinical trials to evaluate the most promising new cancer treatments, and some of the treatments are available only through UCSF. In addition, UCSF surgeons, oncologists and radiologists often have served as leaders for cooperative-group clinical trials, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and conducted collaboratively with several academic medical centers.

UCSF’s role in the co-founding of the biotechnology industry in the Bay Area – recognized as an international center for industry research – has fostered relationships with companies working toward making new cancer drugs available.

Each cancer is different, and different tumors of the same type may be vulnerable to different treatments. At UCSF, physician-researchers are designing clinical trials that will be more focused and targeted to the specific abnormalities present in each tumor that permit cancer growth. The cancer center is especially committed to offering cutting-edge, first-in-human trials. These studies often evaluate treatments or protocols first developed at UCSF.

A new medical center at Mission Bay will serve women, children and cancer patients when it opens in 2014.

New Facilities, Outpatient Services and Outreach to Community Caregivers

Outpatient services at the cancer center include infusion and radiation therapy in nearby physician offices.

UCSF is building a new hospital complex at Mission Bay where many cancer patients will be treated. The new UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay, scheduled to open in 2014, will comprise a 183-bed children’s hospital with urgent and emergency care, primary care, and specialty outpatient services; a women’s hospital offering cancer care, specialty surgery and a 36-bed birth center; and a 70-bed adult hospital for cancer patients. The combination of children’s, women’s and cancer services will foster continuity of care for patients, with adult and pediatric oncologists working side by side.

For referring physicians and their patients, the cancer center’s medical experts are available for consultations, second opinions, treatment and follow-up. The cancer center continually strives to provide efficient access to services, open lines of communication and exceptional support. Cancer center physicians work in partnership with referring physicians to develop treatment plans that are best suited to their patients. The cancer center has recently established new affiliations with other hospitals to bring UCSF cancer care to more patients.

Services for Patients with All Types of Cancer

While the cancer center encompasses many organ-specific cancer clinics, additional patient care services are more broadly available.

  • The Cancer Risk Program, offering genetic counseling for patients with a family history of cancer, is one of the largest of its kind in the nation.These services are provided by genetic counselors, oncologists, surgeons, clinical geneticists and primary care physicians who identify and counsel individuals and families at high risk for cancer caused by inherited abnormal genes.
  • High risk may run in families where an individual is diagnosed with breast cancer at age 45 or younger, colon cancer at age 50 or younger, prostate cancer at age 60 or younger, or ovarian cancer at any age. Counselors examine medical histories and the pattern of cancers in the family. When appropriate, testing for inherited genetic mutations is offered. Counselors help develop personal screening and prevention plans for those at high risk.
  • The Symptom Management and Psycho-Oncology services provide medical management and psychosocial support for patients dealing with symptoms resulting from cancer or its treatment. Service providers include palliative care physicians, members of the cancer center social work program, the Ida & Joseph Friend Cancer Resource Center, and the Spiritual Care Services group.
  • The Survivors of Childhood Cancer Program aims to increase awareness of treatment-associated risk and risk prevention. Services for survivors of adult cancer also are being expanded.
  • The Fertility Preservation Center provides information and fertility preservation services to patients with cancer. Caregivers include reproductive endocrinologists, urologists, psychologists and genetic counselors, as well as embryologists and experts in gamete (sperm and egg) biology. The staff includes providers from the UCSF Center for Reproductive Health as well as researchers from the UCSF Center for Reproductive Health.
  • The Cancer Resource Center and the Art for Recovery program offer a broad range of additional education and support services.