Mherdad Jafari, MD
Medical oncologist Dr. Mehrdad Jafari blends his experience at a major academic center with his collaborative approach to cancer care in serving the patients of the region.
Dr. Jafari arrived at the Skagit Valley Hospital in February 2008 after three years as an assistant professor of medicine in hematology-oncology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
One of the major draws for Dr. Jafari to come to Skagit Valley Hospital is the affiliation with Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, which includes Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, UW Medicine, and Seattle Children's Hospital.
“This is going to be huge,” Dr. Jafari said. “It has a direct benefit to the patients because we have a line of communication.”
Among Dr. Jafari’s special interests are gastrointestinal (GI) malignancies and head and neck cancers. He has studied GI cancers, including colon, esophageal, liver, pancreas, and stomach, during his 2004 clinical externship at MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas.
“With colon cancer, for example, we have seen significant improvement in survival because of a huge jump in the options that we have,” Dr. Jafari said. “Even compared to just five years ago, our programs have markedly improved.”
Part of the improvement is taking a multi-modality approach to cancer care, using surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy as needed.
Dr. Jafari says, “We have to battle cancer from all of these angles and work together. Now, we have the goal of setting the standard higher.”
He says he looks forward to strong communications among the medical oncologists, radiation oncologist, and surgeons.
“We can brainstorm about treatment planning ahead of time and come to a consensus on the best modality for this patient at this time,” he said. “I like to be involved early on. Sometimes, we can help surgical outcomes by giving chemotherapy before surgery.”
In the case of colon cancer, Dr. Jafari is hopeful that more people will take advantage of screening opportunities. Currently, just one third of colon cancer is picked up by screening, while the majority of patients already have significant symptoms, such as bleeding or weight loss.