UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center


The magazine of UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center

Director’s message

Dear Reader,

At the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center we like to say we’re breaking barriers to beat cancer. This is more than a slogan. It’s a reflection of our mission to address the scientific, clinical and social roadblocks to achieving the best possible outcomes for each patient we serve. In this issue of Synthesis we will share a variety of ways in which we are taking on these obstacles.

Our cover story about Gracie Smith describes clinical trials designed by UC Davis oncologists that aim to improve the effectiveness of exciting new immunotherapies for patients with advanced lung cancer. In another story about immunotherapy, you will learn about an innovative use of an older drug that is stopping the progression of melanoma.

And don’t overlook the photographic illustration of the collaboration between the Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Radiation Oncology in which patients with tumors close to the surface of their skin are fitted with custom-made shields that add a protective layer, reduce unnecessary radiation exposure and better target the treatment dose.

In other features that highlight the cancer center’s supportive and specialized clinical care, you will meet David Copenhaver, a pain medicine specialist who works to bring individualized pain treatment to patients, and Angie Usher, a social worker who describes the role of new patient distress screening that helps ensure patients get the support they need through the duration of their care. You will also learn about our expanded Hereditary Cancer Program, which provides genetic counseling to patients at risk for inherited cancers.

We hope you enjoy these and other stories in this edition of Synthesis. If you have any suggestions for future editions, please contact our editor, Dorsey Griffith, at dgriffith@ucdavis.edu.