Bart L. Scott, MD
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
University of Washington School of Medicine
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Bone marrow transplantation, leukemia, myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN)
I know your disease and the latest treatments, but only you can guide me to meet your health needs.”
What is your personal experience with cancer?
Cancer survivor, family member of a patient, physician — I’ve been all three. When I was in high school, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. After watching her go through what she did and seeing the doctors work with her, I knew that I wanted to be a doctor, too. Then, in my second year of medical school, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma. That’s when I learned firsthand about the benefits of people participating in clinical trials. Thanks to those patients, I survived a disease that once had a high mortality rate. These experiences have made me more aware of what patients and families go through when cancer barges into their lives.
I am the director of hematology and hematologic malignancies at SCCA as well as a medical oncologist who specializes in treating myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). Sometimes referred to as “preleukemia,” MDS refers to a group of disorders in which the bone marrow fails to produce enough healthy blood cells. Treatment of this disease is improving rapidly because of clinical trials. I’m currently developing three treatment protocols for MDS, which affects between 13,000 and 20,000 patients in the U.S. every year. In addition to conducting research, I’m also focused on day-to-day patient interactions. In 2016, I received the Ali Al-Johani Award, which recognizes excellence in clinical patient care.
One of my subspecialties is treating myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN), a rare group of blood cancers caused by an overproduction of white or red blood cells or platelets. I coordinate the care of patients with MPN from all over the world, and I also conduct clinical trials of new drug therapies, such as pacritinib, for these cancers. In recent years, we’ve made a lot of progress in understanding the basic biology of MPN — in particular, some of the mutations that drive it — which makes it possible to develop more targeted therapies with fewer side effects.
What do you want patients to know about clinical trials?
There’s often a misconception that participating in a clinical trial means you won’t get the best treatment. Actually, the opposite is true. Those who decide to join a trial tend to get far superior treatment compared to those who don’t. One reason is the level of monitoring: A team of experts in your particular disease will oversee your care very closely. Another reason is that you have access to the very latest therapies available, which may be more effective than conventional methods. There are no placebos. In the end, you have to decide what’s right for you, and clinical trials aren’t without risk. But choosing to participate in one means that you have the chance to help future patients while also helping yourself.
University of Alabama, Birmingham
University of South Alabama-Mobile, School of Medicine
Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine
University of Washington, Hematology-Oncology
Medical Oncology, 2003, 2019, American Board of Internal Medicine