Derek L. Stirewalt, MD
In recent years, there have been a lot of amazing breakthroughs in the treatments of some cancers. However, progress in the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), especially for adults over the age of 65, has been slower than we would like. As the population ages, AML will thus become an increasing health problem, and we desperately need to develop novel therapies that are more effective and less taxing on the body. Such therapies will help to curb the rising tide of AML-related deaths. So I’m driven to better understand the biology of AML and to develop innovative ways to improve treatment for this devastating disease.
Every patient is different, with unique goals, needs and life stressors. One of the most important things that I can do is listen. Truly hearing patients and understanding their concerns allows for the development of trust, which is essential for providing optimal care. Some patients want to know every detail about their disease and treatment, while others prefer to focus more on their recuperation. Whatever their preference may be, I work with them to help ensure the details of their care are attended to and that they feel supported.
Specialty: Medical Oncology
Adult Blood and Marrow Transplantation
I have been caring for patients as a board-certified medical oncologist at SCCA since it opened in 2001. My expertise centers on the treatment of blood malignancies such as leukemia. Most of the patients that I have the pleasure of seeing are faced with a very challenging decision: whether they should consider stem cell transplantation. I work with these patients to weigh the risks and benefits of choosing a transplant or other therapies.
In addition to caring for patients, I study how the process of aging affects the development of leukemia and other blood diseases. My colleagues and I seek to identify novel biomarkers (molecular signposts) that can help predict a patients’ response to therapy, lead to new tests for early cancer detection and give us insight into how a disease progresses. My research has been published in a variety of peer-reviewed journals, such as Nature, Blood and Leukemia. I also serve on the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Guidelines Committee for senior adult oncology.
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.
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.
SCCA providers are often asked to give their medical expertise for press and news publications. Read articles by or about this SCCA provider.
Key research spans CAR T-cell therapies and treatments for myeloma, leukemia and more.
Your care team
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.