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UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center

Shyam Rao, M.D., Ph.D. View profile as PDF

Shyam  Rao

Philosophy of Care

I strive to work with each individual patient to provide the highest quality care while also advancing our current cancer treatments.  I am committed to individualized patient care, state-of-the-art treatment strategies, teaching and research to provide the best possible patient care.

Clinical Interests

Dr. Rao specializes in the use of intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) and stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT). Using these advanced techniques, we can effectively treat tumors while reducing the chance of side effects. As these cancers are often treated with a combination of therapies, Dr. Rao works closely with surgeons and medical oncologists to provide the optimal treatment for each patient.  

Research/Academic Interests

Dr. Rao's research has focused on improving the effectiveness of radiation therapy and reducing treatment related side effects. 


Assistant Professor



Radiation Oncology

Center/Program Affiliation:


UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center
4501 X St., Suite 0140
Sacramento, CA 95817
Driving Directions
Phone: 800-362-5566

Additional Phone:

Clinic Phone: 916-734-5810
Clinic Fax: 916-703-5068
Physician Referrals: 800-4-UCDAVIS (800-482-3284)


M.D., UC Irvine College of Medicine, Irvine, CA, 2005
Ph.D., UC Irvine, Irvine, CA, 2003
B.A., UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, 1994


Internal Medicine, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, NH, 2006


Radiation Oncology, Washington Hospital Center, St. Louis, MO, 2010

Board Certifications:

American Board of Radiology,
American Board of Radiology, Radiation Oncology,

Professional Memberships:

American Association for the Advancement of Science
American College of Radiology
American Society for Clinical Oncology
American Society for Radiology and Oncology
New York Head Neck Society

Select Honors and Awards:

Hope Center for Neurological Disorders Research Award, 2009

Lloyd Guth Award for Excellence in Graduate Research, 2003

University of California, Regents Fellowship, 2000

University of California, Berkeley Outstanding Service Award, 1994

Select Recent Publications:

Stancevic B, Varda-Bloom N, Cheng J, Fuller J, Rotolo JA, Garcia-Barros M, Feldman  R, Rao S, Weichselbaum  RR, Harats D, Haimovitz-Friedman  A, Fuks Z, Sadelain M, Kolesnick R.  Adenoviral Transduction of Human Acid Sphingomyelinase into Neoangiogenic Endothelium Radiosensitizes Tumor Cure. PLoS One. 2013 Aug 2;8(8).

Constraining the brachial plexus does not compromise regional control in oropharyngeal carcinoma.  Robert MW, Lok BH, Dutta PR, Riaz N, Setton J, Berry SL, Goenka A, Zhang Z, Rao SS, Wolden SL, Lee NY.  Radiat Oncol. 2013 Jul 9;8(1):173.

Salgado LR, Spratt DE, Riaz N, Romesser PB, Wolden S, Rao S, Chin C, Hong JC, Wong R, Lee NY.  Radiation Therapy in the Treatment of Minor Salivary Gland Tumors.  Am J Clin Oncol. Epub 2013 Feb 20.

Goenka A, Morris LG, Rao SS, Wolden SL, Wong RJ, Kraus DH, Ohri N, Setton J, Lok BH, Riaz N, Mychalczak BR, Schoder H, Ganly I, Shah JP, Pfister DG, Zelefsky MJ, Lee NY.  Long-term regional control in the observed neck following definitive chemoradiation for node-positive oropharyngeal squamous cell cancer.  Int J Cancer. Epub 2013 Feb 22.

Rao S, Sengupta R, Choe A, Woerner B, Jackson J, Sun T, Leonard J, Piwnica-Worms D, Rubin JB.  CXCL12 mediates trophic interactions between endothelial and tumor cells in Glioblastoma. PLoS One. 2012;7(3):e33005. Epub 2012 Mar 12.

Lim R, Eaton A, Lee NY, Setton J, Ohri N, Rao S, Wong R, Fury M, Schöder H. J Nucl Med. 2012 Oct;53(10):1506-13. Epub 2012 Aug 14.

Hong ZY, Hsu CI, Yu S, Rao SD,  Sorkin LS,  Weiss JH.  TNF-α triggers rapid membrane insertion of Ca2+ permeable AMPA receptors into 2 adult motor neurons and enhances their susceptibility to slow excitotoxic injury. Exp Neurol. 2012 Aug 19.

Rao SD, Fury MG, Pfister DG.  Molecular Targeted Therapies in Head and Neck Cancer.  Seminars in Radiation Oncology. Semin Radiat Oncol. 2012 Jul;22(3):207-13.

Baxi S, Fury M, Ganly I, Rao S, Pfister DG.  Ten years of progress in head and neck cancers. J Natl Compr Canc Netw. 2012 Jul 1;10(7):806-10.

Lok BH, Setton J, Caria N, Romanyshyn J, Wolden SL, Zelefsky MJ, Park J, Rowan N, Sherman EJ, Fury MG, Ho A, Pfister DG, Wong RJ, Shah JP, Kraus DH, Zhang Z, Schupak KD, Gelblum DY, Rao SD, Lee NY. Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy in Oropharyngeal Carcinoma: Effect of Tumor Volume on Clinical Outcomes.  Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2012 Apr 1;82(5):1851-7. Epub 2011 Jun 2.

To see if Shyam Rao is accepting new patients, or for assistance finding a UC Davis doctor, please call 800-2-UCDAVIS (800-282-3284).