Dr. Eaton applies expert research knowledge to treating patients with lung cancer.
I enjoy helping with cancer patients and their families through the cancer journey. I consider patient education to be one of the most important aspects of my work. I like to communicate in a open and compassionate manner.
Lung Cancer, Head and Neck Cancer, Thyroid Cancer, Cancer of Unknown Primary.
- Associate Professor, Medical Oncology Division, University of Washington School of Medicine
- Clinical Research Division, Associate Member, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
- University of California, San Diego (Physics), 1989-1995
- University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, 1994-98
- Internship and Residency: University of Washington, 1998-2001
- Fellowship: University of Washington/Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Oncology, 2001-2004
Physician and friend to lung cancer patients
Like many people who become doctors, Keith Eaton, MD, PhD, was always interested in science. Physics was his forte in school and it took a special person during his years in graduate school years, whom he would later marry, to show him that medicine was where he should focus his energies.
“She was doing more interesting things in school than I was,” Dr. Eaton recalls of his wife’s experiences as a medical student. Switching gears, he decided to go to medical school and completed his Ph.D. in physics at the same time.
Dr. Eaton intended to specialize in primary care. “But my nature drives me to be an expert in whatever I do. It’s hard to be an expert in general practice. I chose oncology after my internship because you use everything you learned in medical school,” he says.
He then received fellowship training at the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and continues to study the influence of genetic factors in lung cancer – why some smokers get cancer while others don’t.
A principal investigator in many trials, one of the studies he hopes to get funded uses Positron Emission Tomography (PET) to guide how chemotherapies are selected in cancer patients.
“There are a number of options for chemotherapy for lung cancer, but we don’t really know how to choose which to try first,” Dr. Eaton says. “It takes six to eight weeks of treatment before we can evaluate and change the regiment if necessary. PET could show us within a couple of weeks if a therapy is working or not, but it’ll take a study to prove this.”
Dr. Eaton enjoys helping his patients and their families through their cancer journey. “I try to get to know them and consider patient education to be one of the most important aspects of my work,” he says.
Dr. Eaton is a good listener, who communicates in an open and compassionate manner.
“If people feel well cared for and they trust their doctor, they’re usually willing to participate in clinical trials,” he says. “My job as their doctor is to keep them informed and answer their questions honestly to help them participate in the decision making.”
“Lung cancer is incredibly under-funded and under-represented, yet it is the largest killer of any cancer. Relative to its disease burden, breast cancer research receives 10 times more money than lung cancer research does,” he says, emphasizing the need for basic and translational research and clinical trials to continually improve the treatments patients receive for lung cancer.
Dr. Eaton has two daughters with whom he likes to spend his free time. Their artwork adorns his office walls, including one piece that says his favorite food is salad. He enjoys photography and cooking, and usually prepares the family meals.