Top Doctor Top Doctor
The Top Doctor award is a peer-nominated award for providers who give exceptional care.

Elizabeth M. Swisher, MD

Co-Leader, Breast and Ovarian Cancer Research Program
Fred Hutch
Professor, Division of Gynecologic Oncology; Adjunct Professor, Division of Medical Genetics
University of Washington School of Medicine
Director, Division of Gynecologic Oncology
UW Medicine
Affiliate Investigator, Clinical Research Division
Fred Hutch
Specialty:
Gynecologic Oncology
“I love the fact that I can do research that improves our understanding of the diseases I treat and then translate those discoveries into benefits for patients on a day-to-day basis. ”
— Dr. Swisher
Tell us about an interaction with a patient that had a significant impact on you.

My first year out of medical training, I took care of two women with hereditary ovarian cancer. They ultimately died as a result of their disease, but my experiences with them shaped the trajectory of my career. Those women inspired me to better understand ovarian cancer so that we can predict who is at risk, preventing these cancers from developing or at least curing them if they do develop — so generations of women don’t succumb to this disease.   

Hereditary In medicine, this describes the passing of genetic information from parent to child through the genes in sperm and egg cells. Also called inherited.
Swisher-secondary.jpg
What do you enjoy about practicing oncology?

I always wanted to focus on oncology because I felt like this specialty really fit my idea of who a doctor was: someone who took care of patients with life-threatening diseases and helped them get through a difficult time in their lives. One of the things that really appeals to me about gynecologic oncology in particular is that I get to provide the whole breadth of care from surgery to chemotherapy to radiation and palliative care. I get to walk with patients throughout their whole therapeutic course, and I find that very rewarding. 

Chemotherapy Treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. It may be given alone or with other treatments. Treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. Chemotherapy may be given by mouth, injection, infusion or on the skin, depending on the type and stage of the cancer being treated. It may be given alone or with other treatments, such as surgery, radiation therapy or biologic therapy.

Provider background

Specialty: Gynecologic Oncology

Area of clinical practice

Gynecologic cancers, high risk prevention

Gynecologic cancers

I am a board-certified oncologist who treats patients with gynecologic cancers. At SCCA, I serve as the medical director of the Breast and Ovarian Cancer Prevention Program. My interests include studying the genetics of gynecologic cancers and using that knowledge to assess cancer risk and personalize prevention strategies. I also have expertise in using minimally invasive surgery to treat cancer. 

As the director of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at UW Medicine, I help train the next generation of clinicians, surgeons and researchers in this field. In addition to teaching and working with patients, I conduct basic science and translational research, leading national and international trials in ovarian cancer. I co-lead the Breast and Ovarian Cancer Research Program for the Fred Hutch/University of Washington Cancer Consortium. 

Oncologist A physician who has special training in diagnosing and treating cancer. Some oncologists specialize in a particular type of cancer treatment, such as treating cancer with radiation. A physician who has special training in diagnosing and treating cancer. Some oncologists specialize in a particular type of cancer treatment. For example, a radiation oncologist specializes in treating cancer with radiation.

Diseases treated

Education, experience and certifications
Undergraduate Degree
Yale University
Medical Degree
University of California School of Medicine, San Diego
Residency
University of Washington
Fellowship
Washington University School of Medicine
Board Certification
Gynecologic Oncology, 2003; Obstetrics & Gynecology, 2001, American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology
Languages
English
Awards
Seattle Met's 2021 Top Doctors Award

Dr. Swisher has been recognized as a Top Doctor year after year in Seattle Met's annual survey.

UW Medicine Excellence in Mentoring Award

Dr. Swisher received this award in 2019 for giving her time and expertise to mentor fellows, residents and students in gynecologic oncology.

Research

Clinical trials

We make promising new treatments available to you through studies called clinical trials led by Fred Hutch doctors. Many of these trials at Fred Hutch 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.

Publications

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

Press

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

Your care team

At Fred Hutch, you receive care from a team of providers with extensive experience in your disease. Your team includes doctors, a patient care 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 doctor and assists with care procedures and treatments.
Patient care coordinator
Patient care coordinator
Your patient care coordinator works closely with you and your doctor and serves as your scheduler.

Insurance

Fred Hutch 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.

For providers