SCCA Network News

SCCA Network News, Issue 2 Spring 2009

In this issue:

SCCA Network

As you know, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) is the clinical oncology collaboration between Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, University of Washington Medicine, and Seattle Children’s. SCCA is focused on improving the transfer of new diagnostic, treatment, and support information from the clinical research setting to the community. SCCA strives to provide state-of-the-art treatment to patients who come to our facilities, and ensure that all cancer patients in the region have rapid access to the best cancer treatment available. The SCCA Network was developed to enhance this effort, effectively raising the bar of standard cancer care regionally and beyond.

The SCCA Network is centered around Education, Research, Physician Relations, and Brand Presence. Together, these efforts provide support for structured, community-based oncology programs. To date, there are seven SCCA Network institutions that we take pride in being associated with. SCCA Network members have access to programs and services at SCCA. Together, SCCA and Network members work to identify ways local providers, hospitals, and clinics can improve cancer care and provide valuable resources for local patients. Examples of jointly developed programs include hosting CME programs chaired by University of Washington or Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center faculty, nurse shadow experiences, coordinated marketing efforts, access to clinical trials and leading-edge therapies, and participation in patient care via technology such as remote user videoconferencing with multidisciplinary tumor boards.

This year, we will continue to work toward improving our referral services and collegial physician communications with our Network members. Our goal is to make processes and access easier so that our Network members can provide specialized cancer care to their community patients.

Please contact the SCCA Network office with questions, concerns, comments, or suggestions at (206) 288-1066 or via e-mail at We are interested in hearing your perspective on how SCCA Network membership can bring value to you and your patients. Thank you for welcoming us into your practice.

UW Tumor Vaccine Group

Since its inception in 1996, the University of Washington’s Tumor Vaccine Group (TVG) has become an engine for translational research in the field of cancer immunology. TVG founder and director, Dr. Mary L. (Nora) Disis, and her team, strive to understand immune interactions within the tumor microenvironment in order to develop therapies that can help fight cancer, and someday, prevent it altogether. To date, the TVG has produced 120 scientific publications, opened 19 clinical trials, and treated over 300 patients with its experimental immune therapies.

Dr. Disis was one of the pioneering investigators to discover the antigenic properties of the HER-2/neu (HER2) receptor, and much of the TVG’s current research focuses on targeted immune therapies against HER2 in patients with breast and ovarian cancer. As the program has grown so have its research interests.

The TVG is exploring the immune properties of T regulatory cells, EGFR, and IGFBP in breast cancer, and is expanding its outlook to lung and other types of cancers. In the TVG laboratory, scientists focus on five primary areas of research: cancer vaccine development, adoptive T cell therapy, cancer antigen discovery, modulating the tumor microenvironment, and measuring and improving patient immunity. The translational nature of the group has enabled it to bring its laboratory advances directly into the clinic. The field of tumor immunology is relatively new on the cancer scene, and immune therapies are intended to work in conjunction with standard treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and targeted drugs. TVG physicians Drs. Disis and Dr. Lupe Salazar work in close conjunction with patients’ primary oncology team to provide medical care during the trial period, and after trial participation. Most TVG clinical trials require only 7 to 12 visits at the UW Medical Center. Current TVG clinical trials include four studies for stage IIIB, IIIC, and IV breast cancer: a peptide-based HER2 vaccine, HER2 vaccination in combination with (800) 326-5300 or Available 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. MEDCON offers physicians a resource to get in touch with the attending physician at SCCA, UW Medical Center, or Hutchinson Center for assistance with a clinical question. adoptive T cell therapy, IV ONTAK, and imiquimod plus Abraxane for cutaneous and chest wall metastases. In addition, the TVG offers two clinical trials for women with advanced-stage ovarian cancer: IP ONTAK and IV Abraxane plus GM-CSF. All of these trials are currently accepting patients from across the state and country. If you are interested in the TVG’s research, visit the web: For specific information about clinical trials, contact Nicole Bates, research coordinator, at (206) 543-6620 or

SCCA Physician Profile: Tony Back, MD

Medical Oncologist, Director of the Program on Cancer Communication

Dr. Back was born and raised in Vancouver, Washington. He is a graduate of Harvard Medical School and did his residency and an oncology fellowship at University of Washington Medical Center, followed by another fellowship at Hutchinson Center.

He joined SCCA in September 2004 as a medical oncologist and director of the Program on Cancer Communication. He is also an associate professor at the University of Washington.

“I feel that my calling is to be a healer in this world,” he says. “And in my research, there is a little piece of culture change that I’d like to make happen in oncology: Really good communication—the kind that could make patients feel heard and respected and informed—because it is one of the ways that physicians can be healers.”

Olympic Medical Cancer Center

Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles is a comprehensive health care provider for Clallam county’s 70,000 residents. Established in 1951, Olympic Medical Center provides inpatient and outpatient services across a network of regional facilities.

Olympic Medical Center has offered medical oncology services at Olympic Memorial Hospital for decades. In 2003, Olympic Medical Cancer Center (OMCC) opened its doors in Sequim and became affiliated with SCCA. For Olympic Peninsula residents with cancer, OMCC provides a broad range of cancer services and the expertise of nationally renowned cancer specialists. In 2007, OMCC unveiled its new medical oncology addition, bringing the service under the same roof as radiation oncology.

OMCC’s cancer care services include radiation oncology (including external beam therapy and IMRT: intensity modulated radiation therapy), medical oncology, hematology, chemotherapy, general oncologic surgery, an onsite Class-A pharmacy, and PET/CT. Support services include nutrition, physical therapy, social services and home health, a resource library with access to reference and support information, and a Patient Navigator to personally assist patients undergoing cancer treatment.

Thomas Kummet, MD

Medical Director of Medical Oncology Olympic Medical Cancer Center

Dr. Thomas Kummet is the medical director of medical oncology at Olympic Medical Cancer Center. He received his medical training at University of Minnesota, followed by an internship and residency at Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix, Ariz. He completed his fellowship training at University of Arizona. He is board certified in internal medicine and medical oncology by the American Board of Internal Medicine. “Cancer patients display a particular courage and demonstrate an understanding of what is truly important in life,” says Dr. Kummet, whose entry into the world of cancer treatment evolved out of an earlier career in cancer prevention research. “My intention is to treat all of my patients as if they were a member of my immediate family. It is a privilege to be involved in their care.” When he isn’t working, Dr. Kummet says his family enjoys exploring the beauty of the Olympic Peninsula and the entire Puget Sound area.

Skagit Valley Hospital

For more than 50 years, Skagit Valley Hospital has served as a health-care leader providing advanced, quality care. This 137-bed regional, community facility in Mount Vernon, WA, continues to grow add and enhance services, focusing on meeting the health-care needs of the people of the region. In 2009, Skagit Valley Hospital will open an expansion of the Regional Cancer Care Center, a stateof-the-art facility that brings excellence in diagnostics and treatment for cancer patients in one convenient location.

The center offers radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and complementary therapies. Skagit Valley Hospital is a network member of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance Network since 2005. Skagit Valley Hospital expanded in 2007 to provide a healing environment that is rich in natural light, open spaces, artwork, privacy, and beautiful, soothing colors. The expansion includes a new emergency and trauma unit; expanded surgical services; an enlarged critical care area; a new Family Birth Center, and private patient rooms throughout. It is Skagit Valley Hospital’s vision to be “the best regional, community hospital in the Northwest, dedicated to understanding and exceeding our patients’ expectations.”

Theodore Kim, DO

Medical Oncologist, Skagit Valley Hospital

Theodore “Ted” Kim, DO received a Master’s degree in molecular cell biology from West Virginia University, where he studied DNA repair mechanisms and graduated from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, which has an emphasis on holistic care. He completed his residency in Internal Medicine at the Albany Medical Center in New York and was a Hematology/Oncology Fellow at Tufts-New England Medical Center in Boston, Mass. before joining Skagit Valley Hospital. “My initial goal was to go into academics, but I found that I really enjoyed working with patients,” Dr. Kim says. “After interviewing across the country, I found that North Puget Oncology and Skagit Valley Hospital had the high standards of patient care and forward thinking that fit my own personal beliefs. I also found the area and people warm and inviting. It’s a wonderful place for me and my family.”