Dr. Cheng cares for patients with prostate, bladder, and testicular cancers.
I consider it a privilege and important responsibility to work together with patients to design the best treatment plan within the context of their life as a whole person, not just as a patient. I strive to prioritize quality of life and, because we can always improve what we are able to learn and do, consideration of research trials. I enjoy the teamwork involved in supporting patients and their loved ones through treatment and survivorship.
- Treatment of prostate cancer
- Treatment of bladder cancer
- Treatment of testicular cancer
- Early-onset, aggressive prostate cancer
- Familial and hereditary prostate cancer
- Assistant Professor, University of Washington School of Medicine
- Assistant Member, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
- Director, SCCA Prostate Cancer Genetics Clinic
- Bachelor’s Degree: Molecular Biology, Princeton University
- MD: University of Washington School of Medicine
- PhD: Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Washington School of Medicine
- Residency: Internal Medicine, University of Washington
- Fellowship: Hematology/Oncology, University of Washington
In discovering her career, Heather Cheng, MD, PhD, wanted to find a way to nurture both the caring and the scientifically curious sides of herself.
“The diagnosis of cancer is a devastating event for patients and their loved ones, which makes the role of the oncologist a vital one,” she said. “I strive to offer information, guidance, and support with the hope of making the path forward less frightening. Equally important, oncology is ever evolving with new scientific developments, clinical trials and treatments, making it possible to instill hope into every day. I didn’t set out to be a prostate cancer specialist, but things came very close to home when three members of my immediate family were affected by, and two ultimately died of, prostate cancer during my training.”
Dr. Cheng’s research interests include studying new treatments for prostate and bladder cancer through clinical trials, and understanding how to sequence the new drugs to maximize therapeutic benefit for patients. She is also studying blood-based cancer biomarkers, such as microRNAs, “which can hopefully predict whether a person’s prostate cancer is likely to be more or less aggressive,” she said, which may help determine “who might benefit from a certain treatment, and/or how well treatments are working.”
Looking toward the future, Dr. Cheng hopes that in her lifetime, physicians will be able to use new molecular sequencing data to identify and cure more early-stage cancers. “If we are able to effectively partner the vast amounts of new molecular technologies that can identify the unique weaknesses (Achilles’ heel) of any given person’s cancer with our ever-increasing armamentarium of new drugs it will allow for more strategic attack, control, and eradication of cancer. I hope that we can cure more patients, and for those we cannot cure, that we can turn their cancer into a chronic disease that minimally impacts their life as they wish to live it.”
Outside of work, Dr. Cheng enjoys spending time with her husband, Colin Pritchard, MD, PhD (who is an assistant professor in Laboratory Medicine at University of Washington School of Medicine and helped design UW-Oncoplex), and their son, reading literature, enjoying the performing arts, and discovering new pockets of the beautiful Northwest.