Dr. Cristina Rodriguez specializes in caring for people with head and neck, salivary gland, thyroid, and lung cancers. She is board certified in medical oncology and hematology.
In caring for my patients, my role is to outline their treatment options using the best available evidence and technology, and to help guide decision-making based on their own goals and values. When I see patients, I work as part of multidisciplinary care team, which brings together the expertise of various specialists. This is a critical component in achieving optimal cancer treatment and quality-of-life outcomes for patients with upper aerodigestive tract cancers.
Head and neck cancer, salivary gland cancer, thyroid cancer, lung cancer
- Associate Professor, University of Washington School of Medicine
- Medical Degree: University of the Philippines, Manila
- Residency: Cleveland Clinic Foundation
- Fellowship: Cleveland Clinic Foundation
- Assistant Professor, Cleveland Clinic Foundation
- Assistant Professor, Oregon Health and Science University
Dr. Cristina Rodriguez grew up in the Philippines with a large extended family with many physicians. "My uncle was an ENT [ear, nose, and throat] physician practicing in rural Mindanao. His clinic was located in his house, essentially open at all hours to all members of the community who often had very limited resources. I always admired his devotion to his profession, and I wanted to be in a similar field,” Rodriquez said.
Dr. Rodriguez chose oncology as her profession after medical school. “I have been fortunate to have worked with exemplary physicians who served as my mentors at various stages of training,” she said. “Through them I came to appreciate the dual challenge in treating cancers of the upper aerodigestive tract; maximizing the success of cancer treatment while preserving function and quality of life.”
Dr. Rodriguez designs, conducts, and reports on clinical trials. “This is the process by which new and promising drugs are studied with the goal of improving treatment outcomes,” she said. “I am particularly interested in the incorporation of targeted therapies into current treatment standards for locally advanced squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck, salivary gland cancers, and radioactive iodine-refractory thyroid cancers.”
Despite the advances made in prevention, detection, and treatment of cancer, certain ethnic and demographic groups continue to have limited access, and consequently have worse outcomes. This issue is particularly relevant in Dr. Rodriguez’s field of interest, where modifiable risk factors such as tobacco, alcohol, and HPV (human papillomavirus) infections have been implicated, and racial and socioeconomic disparity well described.
“My hope is that these disparities in cancer care are alleviated in my lifetime through public awareness and collaborative efforts between the scientific community and health policymakers,” she said.
Outside of work, Dr. Rodriguez enjoys being married to a medical oncologist. “The arrival of our daughter has helped us separate work from home life,” she said. “We spend much of our downtime with her. Every Sunday morning, I try to complete The New York Times Magazine crossword puzzle, often without success.”