Cristina Merkhofer, MD, MHS
As a medical oncologist, I am always working to stay on top of the latest treatment advances and to gather the data needed to make treatment decisions. However, the heart of what I do is not in reading medical journals, reviewing patient records or interpreting test results. I chose this specialty because I love translating the science of cancer care into custom treatment plans for my patients. The most rewarding part of being an oncologist is working together with my patients to meet their goals, whether it’s attending a granddaughter’s wedding or running a marathon.
As the daughter of a physician, I understood from a young age that the physician-patient relationship is sacred. It is a privilege to share in your hopes and to try to lessen the burden of your fears. I believe in treating you as a whole person and not just focusing on your cancer diagnosis. I enjoy learning about your values and your goals so that we can create a treatment plan that helps you reach those goals. Communication is a priority, whether it’s making sure that you understand the risks and benefits of your treatment options or taking the time to call you with an update on your test results.
Specialty: Medical Oncology
I am a board-certified physician who specializes in treating patients with cancers affecting the lung, head, neck and thyroid. I work closely with surgeons, radiation oncologists and other providers to review your scans and medical data so that we can come up with the best treatment plan for you. Our team of thoracic and head-and-neck cancer experts has a strong clinical trial portfolio, and I am happy to discuss how trials may fit into your care.
The time that I spend with patients — discussing clinical trials, deciding between treatment options or connecting them with financial resources — directly informs my research. I study the value of clinical trial participation, both in terms of patient outcomes and costs to health care payers. I also investigate the effectiveness of lung cancer treatments in the “real world,” meaning whether patients experience similar responses and survival benefits from these treatments when receiving them outside a clinical trial. My goal is to help to facilitate decision-making for patients and oncologists and ultimately to inform health care policy.
Dr. Merkhofer received this award in 2020 from Conquer Cancer, the foundation of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. The award provides funding for promising researchers in clinical oncology.
Dr. Merkhofer received this award in 2020. Sponsored by UW Medicine, this award supports researchers aiming to develop new therapies for patients with lung cancer.
We make promising new treatments available to you through studies called clinical trials led by SCCA doctors. Many of these trials at SCCA 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.
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SCCA 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.