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Oncology Clinical Trials Offers Tri-City Residents World-class Treatment – and Hope

Oncology Clinical Trials Offers Tri-City Residents World-class Treatment – and Hope

In 2017, Washington Hospital Health System (WHHS) and UCSF Health joined forces to establish the UCSF - Washington Cancer Center to provide Tri-City residents access to high-quality cancer treatment, research and technology, close to home. Led by UCSF Hematology Oncology physicians, including Bogdan Eftimie, MD, the Cancer Center provides both inpatient and outpatient care and treatment options.

Patients benefit from a network combining the strengths, expertise and resources of both organizations to access the latest advances in treatment and research, from surgery, to radiation oncology, to clinical trials.

Driven to Advance Patient Care

Dr. Eftimie is passionate about enhancing the relationship between doctor and patient. He recognizes the anxiety a newly diagnosed cancer patient feels and strives to tailor care to each individual’s needs. Dr. Eftimie is the medical director of UCSF and WHHS's joint medical oncology service and the UCSF - Washington Cancer Center. He oversees a robust program driven to advance patient care by identifying promising and new therapies for every patient, and in consultation with his colleagues from the Heme/Onc division at UCSF, finding the best solutions for the most difficult cases.

Clinical trials are one of the best ways to achieve these goals. Clinical trials are research studies that assess the safety and effectiveness of new medical, surgical, or behavioral interventions. Oncology clinical trials are research studies that involve people with cancer to test new treatments or ways to use existing treatments. These trials can help improve all aspects of cancer care, including:

  • New drugs
  • Vaccines
  • Surgery approaches
  • Radiation therapy approaches
  • New ways of dispensing treatment
  • New dosages
  • Drug combinations
  • Drug success in treating different cancer types
  • Cancer prevention
  • Reduced treatment side effects

The UCSF - Washington Cancer Center currently participates in nearly a dozen clinical trials for breast, colorectal, lung and prostate cancer. Clinical trials follow a plan called a clinical trial protocol. Some involve investigational medicinal products (such as new chemotherapy agents or hormone therapy), while others focus on radiation treatment protocols.

“Clinical trials are the only way to move therapeutic goals forward,” Dr. Eftimie said. “The way to do research is to conduct it under the umbrella of a rigorous, controlled environment where we protect our patients from harm and ask the right questions.”

“We need to fit patients in the right place, the right time and the right trial,” he continued. “It’s a very linear and dynamic process.”

New Treatment Protocols

Tri-City oncology clinical trial patients are treated at the UCSF - Washington Cancer Center and Washington Radiation Oncology Center. Treatment is based on the type of cancer, its stage and aggressiveness and what will work best for each individual patient. Patients are referred by their primary care provider to WHHS oncologists, who present the options for clinical trials to those who meet set criteria.

“Researchers follow clinical trials guidelines when deciding who can participate in a study,” Dr. Eftimie explained. “These criteria are based on factors such as age, gender, the type and stage of a disease, treatment history, and other medical conditions. Not all patients will be able to participate in the clinical trials, but we try to offer this option to all who are eligible.”

Dr. Eftimie said the goal is to enroll two to three patients a month for a total of 24-36 annually. It’s a complex system; each clinical trial has its own framework and could last 7-10 years. In 2023, the clinical trial program was able to place a dozen patients in a trial. Within the first four months of this year, the program has already placed seven patients in a trial.

Close to Home

The UCSF - Washington Cancer Center Senior Clinical Research Coordinator Maria Lopez noted that while the oncology clinical trials are national in scope, every local cancer patient’s contributions matter. The primary goal is to bring meaningful trials to the Tri-City community. Lopez works with two other clinical researcher coordinators and the group’s physicians and clinicians to look through what clinical trials are available and which would bring the most value to the community.

“Having clinical trials in Fremont allows local patients to take advantage of research, potential new drug therapies and treatment methods,” she said. “They don’t have to travel to find the most current treatment options, which is very important at a time when they are already dealing with so much. Patients are grateful to access this world-class care at home.

“Research is the only way to pave the way to the future,” Lopez continued. “By offering these clinical trials in Fremont, our community is helping future generations in the fight against cancer.”

For more information about the clinical trials program at Washington Hospital, visit