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

Joy C. Chen, MD, MS

Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
Assistant Professor, Department of Surgery
University of Washington School of Medicine
UW Medicine
“I believe that every patient should have access to the same high-quality, evidence-driven care. It’s my job to help you navigate the complex world of cancer treatment so you can make the best decision for you.”
— Dr. Chen
Why did you become a surgeon?

My interest in medicine grew out of a passion for public health advocacy and social justice. I wanted to play a role in preventing disease and helping people stay well. During my medical training, I became interested in surgery as a specialty, but I wasn’t sure that, as a surgeon, I could also pursue the community outreach work that I was passionate about. Then I met a breast surgeon who was very involved with a mobile mammogram service. One day, we screened a woman in her 40s or 50s who had a large mass in her breast and who hadn’t yet been to see a doctor about it. That was when the lightbulb went off; I knew I could do both. As a colorectal surgeon, I enjoy performing dynamic procedures that help eliminate cancer or fix other health problems for patients. At the same time, I’m able to contribute to community health by making colorectal cancer screenings more accessible.   

Mammogram An X-ray of the breast. An X-ray of the breast. A mammogram is a method of finding breast cancer that can’t be felt using the fingers. Mammograms are done with a special type of x-ray machine used only for this purpose.
What would you like patients to know about your approach to care?

I believe that every patient should have access to the same high-quality, evidence-driven care. It’s my job to help you navigate the complex world of cancer treatment so you can make the best decision for you. To do this, it’s important for me to listen and have open discussions with you and your family. Every person’s experiences and challenges are unique, so the solution must be tailored to fit your needs as they evolve.

Provider background

Specialty: Surgery

Area of clinical practice

Colorectal cancers

Colon cancer, rectal cancer, anal cancer

I specialize in the surgical treatment of patients with colon cancer, rectal cancer and anal cancer. Before joining SCCA, I completed a fellowship in colorectal surgery at the University of Minnesota. In addition to providing care, I am interested in improving access to preventive colorectal cancer screenings in underserved communities. Screenings are an important tool for detecting abnormal groups of cells (polyps) before they develop into cancer, when they are more easily treated. My research has focused on the role academic institutions can play in supporting preventive health for colorectal cancers. I am also studying how different approaches to the treatment of rectal cancer affect disease recurrence and survival. 

Recurrence Cancer that has come back, usually after a period during which it could not be detected. It may come back to the same place as the original (primary) tumor or someplace else. Also called recurrent cancer.

Diseases treated

Education, experience and certifications
Undergraduate Degree
Stanford University
Medical Degree
Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
Stanford University Medical Center, General Surgery
University of Minnesota, Colon and Rectal Surgery
MS, Biological Sciences
Chinese (Mandarin)
Seattle Met's 2021 Top Doctors award

Dr. Chen received this peer-nominated award for her exceptional patient care.

General Surgery Resident Research Initiation Grant

Dr. Chen received this award in 2014 from the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons. It supports general surgery residents interested in conducting clinical or laboratory-based research on diseases of the colon, rectum and anus.


Meet SCCA’s colorectal surgical team

SCCA’s all-female colorectal surgery team pioneers a multi-disciplinary approach: Drs. Mukta Krane, Sarah Atkinson, Michelle Cowan and Joy Chen.


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.


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.

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.


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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