Cristina P. Rodriguez, MD
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
University of Washington School of Medicine
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Head and neck cancers, oral cancer, lung cancer, thoracic oncology
I’m committed to improving your health and providing the best functional outcome.”
Why do you practice oncology?
I grew up in the Philippines with a large extended family that includes many physicians. My uncle was an ear, nose and throat physician who practiced in rural Mindanao. His clinic was located in his house and open at all hours to members of his local community, who often had very limited resources. I always admired his devotion to his profession and wanted to work in a similar field. During my medical training, I was fortunate to work with many great physicians who took the time to mentor me. Through them, I came to appreciate treating cancers of the upper aerodigestive tract and helping patients preserve both function and quality of life.
Specialties and clinical expertise
The branch of medicine a provider practices and their areas of focus
I am a medical oncologist who specializes in treating patients with head and neck cancer and salivary gland cancer. My expertise also includes treating thyroid and lung cancers. While there have been significant advances in the prevention, detection and treatment of these diseases, there are certain ethnic and demographic groups who continue to experience poor outcomes. These groups tend to have limited access to care and may experience exposure to risk factors — such as tobacco, alcohol and human papillomavirus (HPV) infections — that can contribute to cancer. My hope is that disparities in cancer care will be alleviated in my lifetime through public awareness and collaborative efforts between the scientific community and health policymakers.
In addition to caring for patients at SCCA and the University of Washington, I design and conduct clinical trials. One area of focus is incorporating targeted therapies into current treatment standards for locally advanced squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck. I am also interested in improving functional and treatment outcomes for locally advanced head and neck malignancies as well as salivary gland tumors. Outside of research, I am part of the clinical practice guidelines panels for the National Comprehensive Cancer Network and the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
What is your approach to treatment?
I work as part of a multidisciplinary care team, which brings together the expertise of various specialists, and we are committed to a dual challenge — maximizing the success of your cancer treatment while also sustaining your quality of life. My role is to outline your treatment options using the best available evidence and technology and to help guide decision-making based on your own goals and values. My clinical expertise is informed by my experience overseeing and running clinical trials and collaborating with my research colleagues.