Cristina P. Rodriguez, MD

Physician
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
Associate Professor, Division of Medical Oncology
University of Washington School of Medicine
Associate Professor, Clinical Research Division
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Specialty:
Medical Oncology
“I’m committed to improving your health and providing the best functional outcome.”
— Dr. Rodriguez
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.

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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.

Clinical trial A type of research study that tests how well new medical approaches work in people. These studies test new methods of screening, prevention, diagnosis or treatment of a disease.

Provider background

Specialty: Medical Oncology

Area of clinical practice

Head and neck cancers, thoracic cancers

Head and neck cancer, salivary gland cancer

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.

Clinical trial A type of research study that tests how well new medical approaches work in people. These studies test new methods of screening, prevention, diagnosis or treatment of a disease. Medical oncologist A physician who has special training in diagnosing and treating cancer in adults using chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, biological therapy and targeted therapy. A physician who has special training in diagnosing and treating cancer in adults using chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, biological therapy and targeted therapy. A medical oncologist is often the main health care provider for someone who has cancer. A medical oncologist also gives supportive care and may coordinate treatment given by other specialists. Targeted therapy A type of treatment that uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific types of cancer cells while causing less harm to normal cells. A type of treatment that uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific types of cancer cells while causing less harm to normal cells. Some targeted therapies block the action of certain enzymes, proteins or other molecules involved in the growth and spread of cancer cells. Other types of targeted therapies help the immune system kill cancer cells, or they deliver toxic substances directly to cancer cells and kill them. Targeted therapy may have fewer side effects than other types of cancer treatment. Most targeted therapies are either small molecule drugs or monoclonal antibodies. Thoracic Having to do with the chest.

Diseases treated

Education, experience and certifications
Medical Degree
University of the Philippines, Manila
Residency
Cleveland Clinic Foundation
Fellowship
Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Hematology-Oncology
Board Certification
Medical Oncology, 2008, 2018, American Board of Internal Medicine
Languages
English
Tagalog

Research

Clinical trials

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.

Study ID:
NCT01810913
Radiation Therapy With Cisplatin, Docetaxel, or Cetuximab After Surgery in Treating Patients With Stage III-IV Squamous Cell Head and Neck Cancer
Complete title
Randomized Phase II/III Trial of Surgery and Postoperative Radiation Delivered with Concurrent Cisplatin versus Docetaxel versus Docetaxel and Cetuximab for High-Risk Squamous Cell Cancer of the Head and Neck
Study ID:
NCT03765918
Study of Pembrolizumab Given Prior to Surgery and in Combination With Radiotherapy Given Post-surgery for Advanced Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma (MK-3475-689)
Complete title
A Phase III, Randomized, Open-label Study to Evaluate Pembrolizumab as Neoadjuvant Therapy and in Combination With Standard of Care as Adjuvant Therapy for Stage III-IVA Resectable Locoregionally Advanced Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma (LA HNSCC)

Publications

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

Press

SCCA providers are often asked to give their medical expertise for press and news publications. Read articles by or about this SCCA provider.

Your care team

At SCCA, you receive care from a team of providers with extensive experience in your disease. Your team includes doctors, a team 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.
Registered nurse (RN)
Registered nurse (RN)
Your nurse manages your care alongside your physician and assists with care procedures and treatments.
Patient care coordinator
Patient care coordinator
Your patient care coordinator works closely with you and your physician and serves as your scheduler.

Insurance

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.

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