Michelle Cowan, MD, FASCRS
When I was 18, my father was diagnosed with lung cancer. That experience opened my eyes to the rigors of treatment as well as the emotional and physical toll the disease takes on patients and families. Cancer is often referred to as a battle, and that’s what it felt like at the time. Looking back, I think what I’ve carried forward professionally from that experience is an acute interest in how my patients want to live their lives. Just because we can pursue surgery doesn’t necessarily mean we should. I take my cue from my patients, basing treatment decisions on what the evidence says but also taking into account how they want to embrace life despite having an illness.
As a surgeon, I have spent years accumulating a foundation of medical knowledge, so I don’t expect you to understand everything about your illness in a one-hour clinic visit. I see myself as being your coach, walking you through every step of the treatment process and having in-depth discussions about your quality of life. I strive to demystify surgery and what it can accomplish. Patients seem to appreciate my candor, the time I spend with them and the way I tailor my explanations to the individual. While I bring technical expertise to the patient-physician relationship, my patients have taught me just as much about strength, compassion and bravery.
Specialty: Medical Oncology
I am a board-certified surgeon who treats patients with diseases of the colon and rectum, including cancer. I am dedicated to applying a minimally invasive approach to the management of these diseases — such as robotic, endoscopic or laparoscopic surgery — whenever possible. Delivering quality cancer care is dependent upon multidisciplinary collaboration, which is why I work closely with a variety of specialists.
My background includes providing care at the University of Colorado Hospital and the Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center. Now, my current clinical practice spans SCCA, UW Medical Center - Montlake and UW Medical Center - Northwest. In addition to working with patients, I study quality-of-life issues and health care disparities as they relate to surgical cancer care.
SCCA’s all-female colorectal surgery team pioneers a multi-disciplinary approach: Drs. Mukta Krane, Sarah Atkinson, Michelle Cowan and Joy Chen.
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.
SCCA's Mukta Krane, MD, FACS, Michelle Cowan, MD, FASCRS, Joy Chen, MD, MS and Sarah Atkinson, MD were featured on the Strong Women in Medicine podcast discussing the all-female colorectal surgery team at SCCA.
Your care team
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.