A. McGarry Houghton, MD

Physician
Fred Hutch
Professor, Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine
University of Washington School of Medicine
Physician
UW Medicine
Professor, Clinical Research Division; Professor, Human Biology Division
Fred Hutch
Specialty:
Pulmonology
“I don’t leave the room until everyone has been heard and each question has been answered.”
— Dr. Houghton
What do you enjoy about practicing pulmonary medicine at SCCA?

In the pulmonary group, my colleagues and I see patients with lung problems that aren’t very common. One example is a condition called bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS), which can affect people who have received a bone marrow transplant. It can be serious, resulting in a progressive loss of lung function. Most pulmonary physicians outside of a tertiary cancer center like SCCA might only see one or two cases in their whole career. We see several patients with this issue each week, so we’re really familiar with it and have developed expertise in how to treat it. It’s important to have a group like ours that are experts in this small slice of pulmonary medicine. I’ve always found it really rewarding to be able to provide a service that people need — and that isn’t commonly available in many communities. 

Bone marrow The soft, spongy material in the center of your bones that produces all your blood cells, such as white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets.
Houghton-secondary.jpg
Tell us about an interaction with a patient that had an impact on you.

One day, I saw a patient with lung cancer who also had a condition called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); together, the two diseases were making it very difficult for her to breathe. Her cancer was not curable, but she wanted someone to find a way to ease her breathlessness and help improve the quality of the time she had left. We really connected that day in part because I have a research background in non-cancerous lung diseases like COPD, so I had an idea of what she was going through, but also because I was able to take the time to really sit and listen to her. I don’t leave the room until everyone has been heard and each question has been answered. 

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease A type of lung disease marked by permanent damage to tissues in the lungs, making it hard to breathe. It develops over many years and is usually caused by cigarette smoking. Also called COPD. A type of lung disease marked by permanent damage to tissues in the lungs, making it hard to breathe. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease includes chronic bronchitis, in which the bronchi (large air passages) are inflamed and scarred, and emphysema, in which the alveoli (tiny air sacs) are damaged. It develops over many years and is usually caused by cigarette smoking. Also called COPD. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease A type of lung disease marked by permanent damage to tissues in the lungs, making it hard to breathe. It develops over many years and is usually caused by cigarette smoking. Also called COPD. A type of lung disease marked by permanent damage to tissues in the lungs, making it hard to breathe. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease includes chronic bronchitis, in which the bronchi (large air passages) are inflamed and scarred, and emphysema, in which the alveoli (tiny air sacs) are damaged. It develops over many years and is usually caused by cigarette smoking. Also called COPD.

Provider background

Specialty: Pulmonology

Area of clinical practice

High risk prevention

Respiratory complications from cancer and treatment, early detection of lung cancer

I am a board-certified pulmonologist who treats patients with respiratory problems from cancer or cancer treatment. I also work with patients through SCCA’s Lung Cancer Early Detection and Prevention Clinic. The goal of the clinic is to help diagnose lung cancer at its earliest stage, when it’s more treatable. 

At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, I lead the lung cancer research group. My lab is focused on studying the molecules and cells in non-small cell lung cancer that prevent the immune system from attacking tumors. Our goal is to develop more effective immunotherapies for patients with this disease. My colleagues and I are also seeking blood biomarkers for lung cancer that would ultimately serve as a foundation for a blood test. The idea is that a blood test, combined with a CT scan and a patient’s history, could help us diagnose lung cancer earlier. 

Computed tomography A procedure that uses a computer linked to an X-ray machine to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body. The pictures are used to create three-dimensional (3-D) views of tissues and organs. A procedure that uses a computer linked to an X-ray machine to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body. The pictures are taken from different angles and are used to create three-dimensional (3-D) views of tissues and organs. A dye may be injected into a vein or swallowed to help the tissues and organs show up more clearly. This scan may be used to help diagnose disease, plan treatment or find out how well treatment is working. Immunotherapy A type of therapy that uses substances to stimulate or suppress the immune system to help the body fight cancer, infection and other diseases. A therapy that uses substances to stimulate or suppress the immune system to help the body fight cancer, infection and other diseases. Some immunotherapies only target certain cells of the immune system. Others affect the immune system in a general way. Types of immunotherapy include cytokines, vaccines, bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) and some monoclonal antibodies. Pulmonologist A physician who has special training in diagnosing and treating diseases of the lungs. Stage The extent of a cancer in the body. Staging is usually based on the size of the tumor, whether lymph nodes contain cancer and whether the cancer has spread from the original site to other parts of the body.
Education, experience and certifications
Undergraduate Degree
Johns Hopkins University
Medical Degree
Georgetown University School of Medicine
Residency
University of Texas Southwestern (Parkland Memorial Hospital), Internal Medicine
Fellowship
Washington University School of Medicine, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine; Brigham & Women's Hospital, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine
Board Certification
Pulmonary Diseases, 2016, American Board of Internal Medicine
Languages
English

Research

Clinical trials

We make promising new treatments available to you through studies called clinical trials led by Fred Hutch doctors. Many of these trials at Fred Hutch have led to FDA-approved treatments and have improved standards of care globally. Together, you and your doctor can decide if a study is right for you.

Publications

Many of our Fred Hutch doctors conduct ongoing research to improve standards of patient care. Their work is evaluated by other doctors and selected for publication to the United States National Library of Medicine, the largest medical library in the world. See scientific papers this Fred Hutch provider has written.

Your care team

At Fred Hutch, you receive care from a team of providers with extensive experience in your disease. Your team includes doctors, a patient care coordinator, a registered nurse, an advanced practice provider and others, based on your needs. You also have access to experts like nutritionists, social workers, acupuncturists, psychiatrists and more who specialize in supporting people with cancer or blood disorders.
Maggie K.  Guerriero, MSN, RN, ARNP
Maggie K. Guerriero, MSN, RN, ARNP
Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner
Advanced Practice Provider
Registered nurse (RN)
Registered nurse (RN)
Your nurse manages your care alongside your doctor and assists with care procedures and treatments.
Patient care coordinator
Patient care coordinator
Your patient care coordinator works closely with you and your doctor and serves as your scheduler.

Insurance

Fred Hutch accepts most national private health insurance plans as well as Medicare. We also accept Medicaid for people from Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. We are working to ensure that everyone, no matter what their financial situation, has access to the care they need.