Heather H. Cheng, MD, PhD

Director, Prostate Cancer Genetics Clinic
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
Clinical expertise
Prostate cancer, prostate cancer genetics, bladder cancer, testicular cancer
“I consider it a privilege and an important responsibility to work together with you to design the best treatment plan for your life as a whole person, not just as a patient.”
— Dr. Cheng
Have you had a personal experience with cancer, and what did it mean for you?

I didn’t set out to be a prostate cancer specialist, but this disease came very close to home when three members of my immediate family were affected by — and two ultimately died of — prostate cancer during my training. My father-in-law had metastatic prostate cancer for 16 years and maintained a high quality of life for most of that time. My grandfather also had metastatic prostate cancer and lived to the age of 96. There was a point when he had the option to participate in clinical trials, and he made the choice to forgo more treatment. His decision informs how I think about not just my excitement for new clinical trials as a physician and researcher, but also about the value of meeting each patient where they are, understanding their priorities and giving them access to the best treatment that makes sense for them.

Cheng-secondary.jpg
What do you think patients appreciate most about the way you care for them?

I strive to offer information, guidance and support with the hope of making the path forward less frightening. Thanks to new scientific developments, clinical trials and treatments, oncology is always evolving, making it possible to instill hope into every day. Your quality of life is a high priority for me. I enjoy the teamwork involved in supporting you and your loved ones through treatment and survivorship.

Provider background

Specialties and clinical expertise: Medical Oncology

Prostate cancer, prostate cancer genetics, bladder cancer, testicular cancer

I am the director of SCCA’s Prostate Cancer Genetics Clinic, which helps bring leading-edge genetic and genomic discoveries to patients. Among the first of its kind in the country, the clinic provides genetic counseling and testing, matches patients with precision oncology clinical trials and provides opportunities for cancer prevention and early detection. 

My research interests include studying the inherited genetics of prostate cancer risk, the relationship to cancer-specific mutations and the genomics of prostate cancer (how sets of genes within a tumor behave). A better understanding of the molecular genetics and genomics of an individual's prostate cancer may serve as precision biomarkers to help guide treatment decisions and clinical trial options, potentially avoiding unhelpful treatments. In some cases, this knowledge could be used to inform relatives about cancer risk and what can be done to reduce that risk.  

Diseases treated

Education, experience and certifications
Undergraduate Degree
Princeton University
Medical Degree
University of Washington School of Medicine
Residency
University of Washington, Internal Medicine
Fellowship
University of Washington, Hematology-Oncology
Board Certification
Medical Oncology, 2013; Internal Medicine, 2010, American Board of Internal Medicine
Other
PhD, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and University of Washington
Languages
English
Awards
Rising Stars in Healthcare, Becker’s Hospital Review, 2017
Kelsey Dickson-PCF Young Investigator, Prostate Cancer Foundation, 2015
Molecular Markers in Cancer Merit Award, Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO, 2012

Stories

Germline genetic testing for patients with prostate cancer webinar

Join Heather Cheng, MD, PhD, Director of the SCCA Prostate Cancer Genetics Clinic, and genetic counselor, Lauren Facchini for a discussion on the intersection of genetic testing for inherited mutations and biomarker testing in prostate cancer. 

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:
NCT04447703
Technology-Enhanced Acceleration of Germline Evaluation for Therapy, TARGET Study
Complete title
Technology-Enhanced Acceleration of Germline Evaluation for Therapy - TARGET study
Study ID:
NCT02598895
Docetaxel and Carboplatin in Treating Patients With Metastatic, Castration Resistant Prostate Cancer Containing Inactivated Genes in the BRCA 1/2 Pathway
Complete title
A Pilot Study of Docetaxel and Carboplatin for Treatment of Patients with Metastatic, Castration Resistant Prostate Cancer Containing Biallelic Inactivation of Genes in the BRCA1/2 Pathway
Study ID:
NCT03503097
Genetic Testing for Men With Metastatic Prostate Cancer (GENTleMEN)
Complete title
GENTleMEN: GENetic Testing for MEN with metastatic prostate cancer

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.

Intersection of Germline and Somatic Testing - Colin Pritchard and Heather Cheng

SCCA’s Petros Grivas, MD, PhD, Heather H. Cheng, MD, PhD and Colin Pritchard, MD, PhD joined UroToday to discuss the increasing role of molecular diagnostics and testing in genitourinary cancers.

Dr. Cheng on Molecular Testing Considerations in Prostate Cancer

SCCA’s Heather Cheng, MD, PhD, was interviewed about key considerations on why molecular testing is relevant in prostate cancer and what it means for patients.

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)
Your nurse manages your care alongside your physician and assists with care procedures and treatments.
Team coordinator (TC)
Your team 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.

For providers