David Tom Cooke, M.D.

The division of general thoracic surgery at the UC Davis Medical Center is a nationally recognized program that offers the top level of care for patients with thoracic disease.  Our highly trained and skilled surgeons, in combination with our unique Nurse Coordinator/Patient Navigator and Physician Assistants offer cutting edge, evidence based, and most importantly, compassionate, and empathetic care to our patients. 

Our motto is “Equality of Great Quality”.

We provide expansive services for the surgical treatment of non-cardiac, benign, and malignant diseases of the chest, including the lungs, esophagus, chest wall, airway, mediastinum and diaphragm.  Many therapies are performed using the latest minimally invasive techniques such as laparoscopic surgery, video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) and robotic thoracic surgery.  In fact, seventy percent of our lung surgeries are performed minimally invasively. Minimally invasive surgery, such as VATS and robotic, result in smaller incisions, shorter stay in the hospital, less need for pain medicine and faster return to work and activities of daily living.

Our multidisciplinary approach brings together expert, internationally honored specialists in general thoracic surgery, gastroenterology, radiation oncology, diagnostic radiology, pulmonology and medical oncology to best fight cancer and other complex thoracic diseases. As part of the National Cancer Institute designated UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, our patients have access to and may be eligible for clinical trials that offer the latest treatments and state-of-the-art therapies.

UC Davis thoracic surgeons participate in virtual tumor boards reviewing complex patient cases in a multidisciplinary fashion, along with medical specialists across Northern California, as a part of the UC Davis Cancer Care Network. Our thoracic surgeons are also available for live, interactive, outpatient telehealth consultations. For physicians and patients in rural communities, this can offer unparalleled convenience and access to renowned expertise without the need to travel far from home.

Our program prides itself on quality outcomes, employing detailed post-operative pathways and recovery regimens. The thoracic surgery program also consists of a highly skilled critical care, nursing and allied health professional team that is trained in identifying and managing potential postoperative complications expeditiously, and “rescuing” patients from complications if they should occur.  Our clinical results outperform national benchmarks as defined by several validated national quality databases and evaluation organizations including the  American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP®), The ACS Committee on Cancer Quality Improvement Program (CQIP®), the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) General Thoracic Surgery Database and the LeapFrog Group. The Division is the first in the nation to receive the ACS Quality Verification Program Thoracic Surgery Recognition. The ACS Quality Verification Program™ (ACS QVP) provides a proven, standardized method for establishing, measuring, and improving hospital-wide quality infrastructure. Finally, our clinical outcomes through the STS General Thoracic Surgery Database are voluntarily publicly reported and can be found online.

To refer a patient for evaluation or treatment, please call the UC Davis physician referral line at 800-4-UCDAVIS (800-482-3287).  For additional questions, to learn more about the thoracic surgical services offered or to be added to our contact list, please call us at 916-734-3861 or email us at thoracic@ucdavis.edu.

Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to care for you, your family/friends, and/or your patients.


David Tom Cooke, M.D., F.A.C.S.
Chief, Division of General Thoracic Surgery