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

Jonathan G. Sham, MD, MBEE

Physician
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
Assistant Professor, Division of General Surgery
University of Washington School of Medicine
Attending Surgeon
UW Medicine
Affiliate Professor, Clinical Research Division
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Specialty:
Surgery
“It’s important for patients to know that they aren’t alone in their fight against cancer. I will be with you as a source of support throughout your treatment journey, whether it involves surgery or not.”
— Dr. Sham
What personal experiences have informed your approach to care?

When I was in surgical training, a close family member had surgery to remove a large pelvic tumor, and going through that experience made me a better doctor. I know what it’s like to be on the other side — to get the imaging study, to wait for the results, to meet with the surgeon, to pace around the room as you wait for the operation to be over and to sit at your loved one’s bedside as they recover. There’s a lot of uncertainty and fear and anxiety, and I look for ways to help patients and families navigate these challenges. My personal experience also serves as a reminder of how important it is to be present with people in the moment. One of the most valuable gifts we, as physicians, can offer patients is our undivided attention.

Imaging In medicine, a process that makes pictures of areas inside the body. Imaging uses methods such as X-rays (high-energy radiation), ultrasound (high-energy sound waves) and radio waves.
Sham-secondary.jpg
What do patients appreciate about working with you?

I try to meet patients where they are in terms of what they understand about their disease and how they’re feeling about the situation. I strive to combine precision with compassion in order to support each person in identifying and fulfilling their treatment goals, whatever they may be. It’s important for patients to know that they aren’t alone in their fight against cancer. I will be with you as a source of support throughout your treatment journey, whether it involves surgery or not.

Provider background

Specialty: Surgery

Liver cancer, pancreas cancer, bile duct cancer, gallbladder cancer, Sarcoma

I specialize in hepato-pancreato-biliary surgery. Known as HPB surgery, this area of medicine focuses on treating diseases of the liver, pancreas, bile ducts and gallbladder. I perform outpatient procedures as well as complex surgeries that require a hospital stay. 

In addition to caring for patients, I’m also interested in developing novel biomaterials and targeted therapies to help improve outcomes after HPB surgery. Another goal of my research is to use targeted drug therapies to help control disease in patients who traditionally would not be eligible for surgical treatment. Sometimes this happens due to the location or size of a tumor or because it has spread to other parts of the body. The idea is that these drug therapies could help overcome obstacles to surgery, potentially making inoperable tumors operable. 

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.

Diseases treated

Education, experience and certifications
Undergraduate Degree
Brandeis University
Medical Degree
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Residency
University of Washington, General Surgery
Fellowship
Johns Hopkins Hospital, Complex Surgical Oncology; Johns Hopkins Hospital, Hepatopancreatobiliary Surgery
Board Certification
Complex Surgical Oncology, 2020, American Board of Surgery; General Surgery, 2018, American Board of Surgery
Master of Biotechnology Enterprise and Entrepreneurship
Johns Hopkins University
Languages
English
Awards
Seattle Met's 2020 Top Doctors award

Dr. Sham has been recognized as a Top Doctor in this peer-nominated award because of his excellent care.

The David Tapper Resident Teaching & Leadership Award

Dr. Sham received this award in 2017 from the University of Washington Department of Surgery for his dedication to teaching and his exemplary leadership qualities.

Alavi-Mandell Award

Dr. Sham received this award in 2015 from the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging. The award recognizes young researchers who make a significant contribution to the field by being first author on an original article published in the Journal of Nuclear Medicine.

Stories

Pancreatic Cancer: New surgery gives hope to more patients, outcomes continue to improve
Pancreatic Cancer: New surgery gives hope to more patients, outcomes continue to improve

Chemotherapy and surgery for pancreatic cancer have improved markedly over the past decade. One of the latest advancements is the modified Appleby procedure, a technique that removes two-thirds of the pancreas, the spleen and the celiac axis. This procedure – originally created for locally advanced gastric cancer – gives new options for treatment for a disease that is seeing rapid improvements in outcomes.

For some patients with pancreatic cancer, a newly introduced procedure at SCCA provides hope
For some patients with pancreatic cancer, a newly introduced procedure at SCCA provides hope

When John Nowoj was diagnosed with locally advanced pancreatic cancer in August 2019, he was told the cancer was inoperable. Nowoj, 57, began pursuing his only treatment option: chemotherapy to be followed by radiation, which could shrink but not eradicate the tumor. Then an unexpected development completely changed the outlook.

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.

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.

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.
Andrew  Coveler, MD
Andrew Coveler, MD
Physician
Medical Oncology
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.

For providers