Mara Y. Roth, MD
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
University of Washington School of Medicine
My philosophy is to work with patients to better understand the diagnosis and treatment of endocrine cancers. Most of these cancers require long-term monitoring and allow me to develop strong relationships with patients over an extended time. When a patient understands their diagnosis, they can help determine treatment goals that match their own lifetime goals.”
Why do you practice oncology?
Mara Roth, MD originally wanted to be a primary care physician, but it wasn’t long before she realized the complex systems of endocrinology were a better fit for her interests. “I was working in New Zealand as a generalist and I saw people with many untreated endocrine diseases. I was fascinated by the diagnosis and management of these diseases, and I decided then and there that I wanted to learn more about the endocrine system so that I could make these people feel better,” says Dr. Roth. Typically a very confusing medical specialty for patients, Dr. Roth says she enjoys helping patients understand how hormones work and how they regulate the body’s normal processes. When treating endocrine diseases, such as thyroid cancer, Dr. Roth says once it is controlled, it is often not the cause of death and can be treated. Treatment includes long-term screenings and follow-up care, so “I get to enjoy ongoing relationships with my patients.” Dr. Roth is an acting instructor in the Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology, and Nutrition (MEN) at the University of Washington School of Medicine. She sees patients in the Endocrine Neoplasia Clinic at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) who have thyroid cancer and other endocrine cancers or neoplasia (the pathological process that results in formation and growth of neoplasm i.e. abnormal new growth of tissue), including pituitary or adrenal tumors. Previously, Dr. Roth says thyroid cancer and other endocrine cancers were considered fairly rare, but they are becoming more common. She says it is not clear if this increase is due to the disease being identified more frequently from patients receiving other tests, or if incidence is actually increasing. Dr. Roth’s clinical role includes participating in the MEN multidisciplinary endocrine neoplasia monthly conference. The meeting, attended by numerous specialists, including endocrinologists, medical oncologists, pathologists, and radiologists, involves the presentation and evaluation of specific (usually especially challenging) cases. Together the specialists discuss the case, perform a comprehensive review, and offer a recommended treatment plan. These conferences, which are often recorded, are very helpful to patients, due to the ability to “get all opinions at once,” says Dr. Roth. And, she adds, they are a great resource for the patients’ physicians as well. Dr. Roth’s research interests are quite different from her clinical involvement. She is doing research on male reproductive health and specifically the development of a male hormonal contraceptive. The development of a safe, effective male hormonal contraceptive is long overdue, she says. “We need a reliable and reversible means of contraception for men. They need to have control of contraception as much as women do. “Worldwide, you see rising populations in many nations and this is of great concern. Currently, we only have female hormonal contraceptives and this is not providing adequate control of population growth. Perhaps if men had the options of other safe, reversible, and effective means, this would help address this burgeoning problem,” Dr. Roth says. Research in the development of new male contraception also impacts patient care by allowing patients to take greater control of their fertility and help them become more aware of it—particularly during cancer treatment when fertility can be adversely affected.
Brown University Medical School
University of Washington
University of Washington
Endocrinology, 2010, American Board of Internal Medicine
Internship, University of Washington