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Sacramento, Calif. – The University of California Davis Health System recently announced that it will partner with the California Department of Public Health to run the day-to-day operations of the California Cancer Registry, one of the world’s leading resources for population-based data on cancer.

Kenneth W. Kizer, director of the Institute for Population Health Improvement (IPHI) at UC Davis Health System will lead the partnership. As a past director (from 1984 to 1991) of the former California Department of Health Services, he led efforts to obtain the legislation authorizing statewide cancer reporting in 1986 and then oversaw the implementation of the statewide California Cancer Registry.

California’s statewide population-based cancer surveillance system is a data gold mine containing information on more than 4 million cancer cases diagnosed since 1988 including patient demographics, cancer type, extent of disease at diagnosis, treatment and survival information. The database is a powerful tool that enables researchers and health-care professionals to assess geographic, ethnic, racial and other risk factors for cancer. Data about trends, disparities in cancer occurrence and treatment, and other information derived from the registry, help shape policy, refine guidelines on patient care, and reveal where early detection, education or other cancer-related programs should be directed. The CCR also has been a critical tool in analyzing cancer “clusters” and the relationship of these unusual occurrences of cancer to environmental factors.

The CCR is a highly collaborative effort among the California Department of Public Health and its Cancer Surveillance and Research Branch (CSRB), the state’s eight regional cancer registries, health-care providers and cancer researchers throughout the state and nationally. Until now, the registry has been operated by the Public Health Institute since 1986.

“They created and maintain a great resource for cancer research for Californians,” said Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health and state health officer. “CDPH is looking forward to continuing this great public health resource and is excited to partner with UC Davis IPHI.”

Through the new partnership with UC Davis, IPHI will take the lead in collecting, analyzing, interpreting and disseminating information on cancer incidence and mortality for the state. Working with the state public health department and cancer surveillance branch, IPHI and UC Davis Health System staff will monitor the incidence and mortality of specific cancers over time and analyze differential cancer risks, cancer by geographic region, age, race/ethnicity, sex and other social characteristics of the population. They also will gather cancer data through the registry and work with researchers on special projects related to the etiology, treatment, risk factors and prevention of specific cancers.

“The California Cancer Registry provides an unparalleled opportunity to understand the relationship of cancer to genetic, environmental, lifestyle and other factors, and to use that knowledge to advance cancer care and inform public policy,” said Kizer. “Nesting the Registry at UC Davis provides an unrivaled opportunity to leverage the expertise of the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center,

Departments of Information Technology and Public Health Sciences, and many other departments and programs throughout the university to translate the registry data into actionable intelligence to lessen the devastating effects of cancer.”

UC Davis plans to enhance the registry’s information management technologies to facilitate rapid collection of accurate cancer-case data and expand easy access to users located throughout the state. In addition, as researchers further develop genetic and molecular medicine and other new technologies to better diagnose and treat cancer, those advancements will inform operation of the registry.

“As a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, we are committed to further developing the California Cancer Registry to improve health and transform health care,” said Ralph de Vere White, director of the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Our Population Sciences and Health Disparities Program conducts comprehensive research on cancer prevention, initiation, progression and survival. Our emphasis is on reducing disparities in the incidence of particular cancers, as well as improving cancer outcomes in all populations.”

UC Davis Health System has a long history of partnering with the state to improve lives and the delivery of health care. UC Davis clinical informatics specialists developed and currently operate the California’s Electronic Death Registration System, the largest and most successfully adopted death registration system in the United States.

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