Health Care Partnership to Improve Breast Cancer Care in Marin

November 05, 2007
News Office: Vanessa deGier (415) 502-6397

California Cancer Care, Marin General Hospital and UCSF Medical Center have signed agreements to improve access to surgical services for individuals with breast cancer who reside in Marin County.

Marin and nearby Sonoma County residents will now have increased regional access to a highly qualified breast cancer surgeon close to home, avoiding the need to travel outside the local area if they require surgery.

The agreement outlines a plan for meeting the needs of patients with breast cancer in a community setting and blends UCSF's world-renowned surgical expertise with a multidisciplinary team of highly qualified local medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, nurses and support staff at California Cancer Care and Marin General Hospital's Marin Cancer Institute. The agreement is effective through 2012.

Under the terms of the agreement, UCSF breast surgeon Dr. Cheryl Ewing, will locate her practice at California Cancer Care's Greenbrae office. The clinic will provide support services for Ewing, including staff for managing medical records and scheduling appointments. Ewing will perform surgical procedures at Marin General Hospital, where she will also serve as the medical director of the Breast Health Program. In this position, Ewing will be responsible for overseeing the quality of medical care that breast cancer patients receive hospital-wide.

Ewing will work with other physician leaders of the Breast Health Program including medical oncologist Dr. Bobbie Head and radiation oncologist Dr. Francine Halberg. Well known for their patient care and clinical skill, both physicians serve on several committees including the California State Breast Cancer Research Council and the Marin County Women's Health Study.

California Cancer Care, which currently participates in the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project, will now have the additional benefit of having access to the latest breast cancer clinical trials available at UCSF.

"We are very excited about this collaboration," said Harvey Bichkoff, chief executive officer, California Cancer Care, Inc. "As Marin and surrounding areas continue to grow, residents will now be assured access to a continuum of superior quality care without having to travel far from home."

Ewing has already begun to see patients at the Greenbrae clinic and is currently scheduled to see patients two sessions a week.

"UCSF is proud to partner with such highly regarded oncology practices and stellar physicians to provide easily accessible world-class cancer care in Marin," said Dr. Peter Carroll, director of Strategic Planning and Clinical Services, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. "We look forward to working with California Cancer Care and the Marin Cancer Institute in filling a community need for better breast cancer management, from prevention to early detection to treatment and recovery."

Studies conducted at UCSF and at other institutions show that breast cancer rates are high in the Bay Area, including Marin County. According to the National Cancer Institute, more than two million women in the United States have either survived breast cancer or are living with breast cancer today. The disease is responsible for the highest number of new, invasive cancer cases among women each year and is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women. An increase in breast cancer incidence continues throughout the United States today, especially in women over the age of 50.

Ewing is an associate clinical professor of surgery at UCSF. She received her medical degree from Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit. Ewing completed residency training at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor and a breast fellowship at Northwestern University Medical Center in Chicago.

California Cancer Care's integrative oncology practice is one of the most respected and innovative programs in the country. The practice provides patients with the best and most current cancer treatments available today, offering a full range of targeted therapies for cancer as well as specialized services that include individual counseling, support groups and complementary medicine. The organization received acknowledgement from the Institute of Medicine for its quality program and continues to be a national leader in defining quality cancer care. It currently shares a large grant with UCSF's Institute for Health Policy Studies in this effort. California Cancer Care operates offices in Greenbrae, Novato, Redwood City and San Mateo.

The Marin Cancer Institute, a program of Marin General Hospital, is a center for cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and recovery. Led by physician experts with specialized training in cancer, it offers university-level expertise, the latest technology and personalized, integrative care in a comfortable community setting.

MCI's breast health program offers state-of-the art medical and surgical care and personalized service and ongoing support, including a nurse navigator to guide patients, a breast tumor conference that develops a multi-disciplinary treatment plan and holistic services through a humanities program.

The UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center is recognized by the National Cancer Institute for the highest level of excellence in both its scientific research and its ability to integrate diverse research approaches to focus on the problem of cancer and improve patient outcomes. Among its many subspecialties, the center includes flagship programs in breast, prostate and brain cancer. As a comprehensive cancer center, it also maintains programs that focus on cancer prevention, control and population sciences.

The Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center at UCSF, directed by Dr. Laura Esserman, is known for its innovation in core delivery and new treatments for breast cancer, with a mission to tailor care for each individual based on the biology of the tumor, the patient's medical evidence and outcomes of care.

UCSF is a leading university dedicated to defining health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care.

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