Cancer Treatment

AIDS-Related Cancer

AIDS, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, is a chronic, life-threatening condition caused by the human immunodeficiency virus, known as HIV. By damaging or destroying the cells of your immune system, HIV interferes with your body's ability to effectively fight off viruses, bacteria and fungi that cause disease. This makes you more susceptible to opportunistic infections your body would normally resist and to certain types of cancers, such as Kaposi's sarcoma and AIDS-related lymphoma.

Our team of internationally renowned AIDS specialists is studying the role of the AIDS virus in causing cancer. We also are involved in clinical trials to test new therapies to treat AIDS-related cancers. Specialized treatments include monoclonal antibodies, antiviral therapies, novel vaccines and chemotherapy.

 

Bone Cancer

Orthopedic cancer specialists at UCSF Medical Center have extensive experience in treating bone cancer to preserve as much bone and functionality as possible. They work with physical therapists, pain management specialists and others such as experts in orthotics and prostheses to provide the highest quality care.

Most commonly, bones are the site of tumors that spread or metastasize from another organ, such as the breasts, lungs or prostate. Cancer that arises in the bone — primary bone cancer — is rare.

Bone tumors may be benign or malignant. Benign bone tumors are more common, but both types may grow and compress healthy bone tissue and absorb or replace it with abnormal tissue. Benign tumors, however, don't spread and are rarely life threatening.

 

Brain Tumors
UCSF Medical Center has one of the largest brain tumor centers in the nation. With recent advances in treatments, the outlook for patients with brain and spinal cord tumors has significantly improved.

The UCSF Brain Tumor Center offers a technique called brain mapping to create a detailed surgical path as well as the Gamma Knife and CyberKnife that deliver high doses of radiation precisely to their targets. Our experts use advanced surgical navigation and interactive image-guided microscopes in addition to brain mapping techniques when removing tumors.

A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, which provides a view through the skull, allows our surgeons to get computerized images of the brain while performing surgery. Other new technologies, such as sophisticated 3-dimensional techniques, are used by our radiation oncologists to target tumors more precisely. And new spine tumor treatments, including chemotherapy, tumor vaccines and surgery, mean more hope for the future.

 

Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is the disease many women fear the most. It is the second most common cancer among women, with about 192,000 new cases each year. It remains the leading cause of death of women between age 40 and 55. While known primarily as a woman's disease, men also develop breast cancer.

The good news is that survival rates today are higher than ever due to advances in diagnosis and treatment. At the UCSF Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center, emphasis is placed on screening for early detection, more effective and less toxic therapies, patient education and research that explores the causes, biology and behavior of the condition for future prevention and treatment strategies.

The breast care center works to heal the whole person, both your physical and emotional being. We provide specialized services including individual counseling as well as support groups that focus on every stage that you and your family may experience and where patients share their stories.

 

Colorectal Cancer
Cancer of the colon, rectum, appendix and anus — known as colorectal cancer — develops in the tissues of the large intestine. This group of cancers is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and affects men and women equally. Fortunately, with screening, the majority of colorectal cancers can be prevented or detected while still treatable.

At UCSF Medical Center and the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, our specialists are leaders in the diagnosis and treatment of colon, rectal and anal cancer. Our Center for Colorectal Surgery specializes in the treatment of colorectal diseases and offers the latest surgical approaches. See our patient education.

The Colorectal Cancer Research Program studies the epidemiology, prevention and early detection of these cancers. One of the primary objectives of the program is to determine the historical, environmental, dietary and genetic factors as well as the biological markers of patients at high risk of developing colorectal cancer.

 

Gastrointestinal Cancer
Gastrointestinal cancers include cancers of the anus, colon, bile duct, esophagus, liver, pancreas, peritoneal cavity, rectum, small intestine and stomach. In the United States, colorectal is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths and is the third most common type of cancer in both men and women. As a group, gastrointestinal cancers are the most common cancers.

Our experts in gastrointestinal cancers provide the most advanced and effective treatment available. We have a colorectal cancer program with clinical, genetics and research components — a powerful combination that we believe will lead to new and improved treatment for patients.

We have a wide range of services including screening, early detection and genetic counseling for families who are at a high-risk of developing colorectal cancer. We offer second opinions, psychological and social services support and advanced diagnostic techniques. We also have a Center for Pelvic Physiology, which evaluates patients for pelvic floor disorders as well as anal and rectal tumors.

 

Gynecologic Cancer

Every six minutes, an American woman is diagnosed with gynecologic cancer, including cervical, endometrial, ovarian, peritoneal, tubal, vaginal and vulvar cancers.

Endometrial cancer of the uterus, sometimes referred to as uterine cancer, is the most common cancer of the reproductive system while ovarian is the fifth most common cause of cancer deaths in women. This condition most frequently affects older women, with the incidence increasing significantly at the time of menopause.

Cervical cancer usually affects women between 40 and 55 years of age, with 16,000 cases of invasive cervical cancer diagnosed annually in the United States. Pap smears are an effective screening tool.

Women who have an abnormal Pap smear can seek care at the UCSF's Dysplasia Clinic, which also treats genital warts, vulvar disease or pain and anogenital dysplasia, an alteration in the skin of the cervix, vagina, vulva or anus, which if left untreated, can become cancerous. These problems often are caused by an infection called the human papillomarivus (HPV), a common virus causing changes in skin that sometimes result in genital warts. Screening and treatment of HPV disease of the anal canal are available to men and women.

At the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, our team — including gynecologic cancer surgeons, radiation specialists and specially trained nurses — offers innovative, compassionate care in a supportive environment. Our services cover screening exams, diagnostic imaging, treatments such as surgery and radiation, advice on the latest therapies available, patient education and other specialized services. Genetic counseling for high-risk families also is provided.

Head and Neck Cancer

Each year, more than 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with head and neck cancer, a disease that can affect the appearance of the face and neck, speech, sight, smell, chewing, swallowing and taste.

At UCSF Medical Center, we treat all forms of head and neck cancers including those of the larynx, oral cavity, salivary glands, sinuses and thyroid gland as well as throat, tongue and tonsil. We also treat the typically benign tumors of the pituitary gland.

Our head and neck team combines surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy to increase the rate of patient survival and to preserve vital functions such as speech and swallowing. Our special services include comprehensive voice rehabilitation and prevention programs.

 

Leukemia
Leukemia is cancer of the body's blood-forming tissues, including the bone marrow and lymph system. When this condition occurs, bone marrow produces a large number of abnormal white blood cells, in some cases giving the blood a white cast.

Normal white blood cells are potent infection fighters. But in people with leukemia, abnormal white blood cells tend to accumulate, blocking production of normal white blood cells and impairing the ability to fight infection.

Treatment for leukemia is complex. Most patients are treated with chemotherapy. Some also may have radiation therapy, a bone marrow transplant (BMT) or biological therapy. In some cases, surgery to remove the spleen may be part of the treatment plan.

There are four main types of leukemia:

Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) — Occuring in both adults and children, this type of leukemia is sometimes called acute nonlymphocytic leukemia (ANLL).

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) — This is the most common type of leukemia in young children, but also affects adults, including those who are age 65 and older.

Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) — Although this condition occurs mainly in adults, a very small number of children also develop CML.

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) —This condition most often affects adults over the age of 55. While it sometimes occurs in younger adults, it almost never affects children.

All types of leukemia are treatable and most are potentially curable.

Leukemia is grouped by how quickly it develops, as well as the type of blood cells it affects. The different forms of leukemia vary greatly in their nature and seriousness and they are classified as either "acute" or "chronic."

Acute leukemias are more aggressive with severe symptoms and cause major medical problems quickly. Without effective treatment, most patients will die in days to weeks.

Chronic leukemias develop at a much slower rate. Some do not require treatment for months or years.

Leukemias also are classified as "myeloid" or "lymphoid." This refers to the type of white blood cell that has become cancerous. Myeloid cells give rise to neutrophils, an important type of white blood cell that kills bacteria. Lymphoid cells give rise to lymphocytes, which protect against bacterial germs including viruses.

Many people believe leukemia is a disease that only affects children, but roughly 10 times as many adults as children are diagnosed with this cancer. New cases of leukemia number nearly 30,000 annually in the United States.

 

Liver Cancer

The liver, one of the largest organs of the body, has many important functions that keep a person healthy. It removes harmful material from the blood, produces enzymes and bile that help digest food and converts food into substances needed for life and growth.

Cancer of the liver, which may be primary or secondary cancer, involves an uncontrolled growth of cells. Primary cancer arises within the liver and in its early stages exists only in the liver. Secondary liver cancer, also called metastatic cancer, originates in another organ, such as the colon, stomach, pancreas or breast and then spreads to the liver. Because secondary cancer is present in at least two organs, the treatment possibilities are more limited than for primary liver cancer.

Primary liver cancer can affect anyone, but it occurs most frequently in people with advanced liver disease. In the United States, the risk is greatest for those with longstanding hepatitis B, advanced hepatitis C and cirrhosis. Because hepatitis viruses are so widespread, liver cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death worldwide.

Certain inherited conditions also predispose a person to liver cancer, including tyrosinemia in children, a rare disorder in which the body can't effectively break down the amino acid tyrosine, and untreated hemochromatosis, a disorder that causes the body to absorb and store too much iron, in adults. Common to all these conditions is chronic liver inflammation and injury.

One of the objectives of current research at UCSF is to determine why liver inflammation and injury lead to liver cancer.

 

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in one or both lungs. These cells can multiply rapidly and turn into tumors that interfere with the function of the lungs and, eventually, spread to other parts of the body.

Lung cancer is the second most common kind of cancer diagnosed in the United States, and accounts for nearly a third of all cancer deaths. Most people who get lung cancer were cigarette smokers, but non-smokers get it too. Exposure to radon, asbestos, and secondhand smoke are also risk factors. In some cases, there is no known cause.

One of the challenging aspects of lung cancer is that it may be years before symptoms emerge. By the time it's diagnosed, about half the patients have cancer that's already spread outside the lungs.

The Thoracic Oncology Clinic and Thoracic Surgery Program at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at Mount Zion use many approaches for treatment — combining surgery, radiation and chemotherapy — for conditions, including esophageal cancer and mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer in the lining of the chest or abdomen. Other cancers treated include chest-wall cancers and mediastinal tumors in the cavity separating the lungs as well as tumors that spread to the lungs from other parts of the body.

These specialists of the thorax — the chest area between the neck and abdomen — also treat a spectrum of pulmonary diseases as well as benign conditions such as hyperhidrosis, which causes over-activity of the sweat glands and excessive sweating.

 

Lymphoma
Lymphoma is a general term for cancer that develops in the lymphatic system, the part of your immune system that helps fight disease and infection. Hodgkin's disease — also known as Hodgkin's lymphoma — is a rare type of lymphoma, accounting for less than 1 percent of all cases of cancer in this country.

In Hodgkin's disease, cells in the lymphatic system grow abnormally and may spread beyond the lymphatic system. As the condition progresses, it compromises your body's ability to fight infection and symptoms appear. Many symptoms may be similar to those of influenza, such as fever, fatigue and night sweats. Eventually, tumors develop. Hodgkin's disease usually affects people between the ages of 15 and 35 and people older than age 55.

Other more common lymphatic cancers are called non-Hodgkin's lymphomas. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma accounts for about 4 percent of all new cancers in the United States. The disease is about eight times more common than Hodgkin's disease. Annually in the United States, about 55,000 cases of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma are diagnosed and the disease accounts for about 26,000 deaths.

In non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, tumors develop from white blood cells called lymphocytes, often at different locations in your body. Normally, lymphocytes go through a predictable life cycle. Old lymphocytes die and your body creates new ones to replace them. But in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, your body produces abnormal lymphocytes that continue to divide and grow without control. This excess of lymphocytes crowds into your lymph nodes, causing them to swell.

Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer death in the United States. Symptoms are typically vague, which can make it difficult to diagnose early, and most cases are identified after age 50. Because these cancers are often caught at a late stage, they can be difficult to treat.

The pancreas is an oblong organ, about six inches long, located in the upper abdomen. It has two major functions:

The first is to produce digestive enzymes — proteins that help digest food into the small intestine. Cells that perform this function make up the exocrine pancreas.

The second major function is to produce hormones that are secreted into the blood. These cells make up the endocrine pancreas.

 

Endocrine Pancreas

The endocrine pancreas is made up of specialized cells, referred to as islets of Langerhans, that produce hormones. The most important hormone produced is insulin that helps control sugar in the blood. Cancers that begin in islet cells are called islet cell tumors or pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors. These tumors are rare and may produce hormones that cause very low or very high blood sugars or symptoms such as stomach pain and severe diarrhea.

Exocrine Pancreas

The exocrine pancreas is made up of ducts and acini, which are small pockets at the end of the ducts. Cells lining the ducts are the most likely to develop cancer, called ductal adenocarcinomas, the most common type of pancreatic cancer.

These two types of tumors are treated very differently.

 

Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among American men, with an estimated 232,000 new cases diagnosed each year. The UCSF Prostate Cancer Center is dedicated to providing the best comprehensive care for those with the disease and those at risk of developing it.

Our experts share one vision — to prevent and cure prostate cancer and improve the quality of life of men undergoing treatment.

The center's services include:

Screening and diagnosis
Second opinions
Treatment options, including new and experimental treatments
Specialized care for men at high risk
Our emphasis is on prostate cancer screening and counseling for early detection, individually tailored treatment plans that may include a variety of approaches and research to better understand the disease and its causes. Treatment may include several options, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy or surgery. We also provide nutrition counseling, support groups, patient education materials and free classes at the UCSF Cancer Resource Center.

For patients newly diagnosed with prostate cancer, the Prostate Cancer Center presents an educational overview of living with prostate cancer, covering diagnosis, treatment options and outcomes, and recovery as well as diet and lifestyle changes, complementary therapies and stress reduction.

The center also participates in the state-funded Improving Access, Counseling and Treatment for Californians with Prostte Cancer (IMPACT) that provides services to low-income men in California with limited or no health insurance.

 

Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer today with about 1 million new cases diagnosed each year in the United States. The good news is that nearly 90 percent of skin cancers are preventable. If caught early, most are highly curable. For these reasons, it's important to protect yourself from the sun and to check your skin regularly for signs of cancer. Left undetected or untreated, skin cancer can be damaging — even deadly.

Specialists at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center provide care to control and prevent skin cancers as well as design new treatments for high-risk skin malignancies, such as melanoma, basal and squamous cell cancer, and skin lymphomas including mycosis fungoides, a rare form of T-cell lymphoma of the skin.

New diagnostic approaches and treatments include lymph node "mapping" to detect the early occurrence of cancer, melanoma vaccines and electron beam radiation. In addition, we offer surgical consultations, emotional support, educational programs and opportunities to participate in new experimental treatments.

Our Melanoma Center at Mount Zion is a specialty clinic that addresses all stages of melanoma, from diagnosis of the early lesions to therapy for late-stage disease.

 

Urologic Cancer

Urologic cancers include cancers of the bladder, kidney, prostate and testicles, all of which are relatively common. Prostate cancer, for example, is the most common cancer in American men. One out of every 10 men will develop the disease at some time in his life -- most often after age 50.

Bladder cancer is the fourth most common cancer among men and the ninth most common among women in the United States. Each year, more than 50,000 new cases of bladder cancer are diagnosed.

Among American men age 15 to 44, testicular cancer is the most common. Denial and embarrassment contribute to making it one of the least mentioned cancers. Yet the disease deserves serious attention. The American Cancer Society estimates that about 6,900 cases of testicular cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States and about 300 men die from it annually.

Our patients have access to some of the country's leading urologic cancer specialists and a wide range of services including screening exams, transrectal ultrasound and biopsy, diagnostic imaging, second opinions and treatment from surgery to radiation therapy. Our patients also have access to the latest experimental therapies being tested in clinical trials.

about 11,000 more children are diagnosed with it. Because childhood cancer differs from adult cancer in the way it emerges and develops, our programs are designed specifically for children. With this expertise, many childhood cancers are cured and the outlook for many young patients is good.

The Children's Cancer and Blood Disease Program at UCSF Children's Hospital is an international leader in the treatment of cancer and blood diseases. We are home to the Pediatric Brain Tumor Research Center, one of the nation's 10 comprehensive Sickle Cell Centers and a regional pediatric Hemophilia Treatment Center. The Bone Marrow Transplant Program at UCSF Children's Hospital is a leader in special treatment options for children with primary immunodeficiency diseases, marrow failure syndromes, genetic diseases, cancers and other life-threatening illnesses.

As part of our research effort, we are members of the Children's Oncology Group, a national organization of 150 pediatric cancer centers that explores new treatments for childhood cancer, and New Approaches to Neuroblastoma Treatment, a federally funded consortium of universities and children's hospitals that tests promising new therapies for neuroblastoma, a common and often difficult to treat cancer.

A program called the UCSF Survivors of Childhood Cancer is available to assist survivors of pediatric cancer achieve and maintain optimal physical and emotional health through clinical care, education and research.

 

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Traditional Chinese medicine doctors, studied and trained in Beijing (China).

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