Rafael Santana-Davila, MD
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
University of Washington School of Medicine
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Thoracic, head and neck cancers, thoracic oncology
My patients teach me life lessons that make me a better person.”
What do you love about your job?
Originally from Mexico City, I was drawn to my career in medicine because of two things: the inspiration and influence of my father — an accomplished physician himself — and my interest in the science of the human body. I developed a fascination with trying to understand why cancer develops. As an oncologist, I have the privilege of helping patients go through one of the most difficult phases of their lives. They teach me life lessons every single day. I’m indebted to them for helping me focus on the joys of life.
Specialties and clinical expertise
The branch of medicine a provider practices and their areas of focus
I am a medical oncologist who specializes in treating patients with lung and head and neck cancers. In the last decade, there’s been significant progress in the way we treat these cancers. Exciting new therapies have proven to be effective. We’ve come a long way, but there’s still so much work to do — and that’s why I’m committed to ongoing research.
My interests include harnessing the immune system in treating virus-associated cancers and designing and implementing clinical trials to establish new, life-saving treatments. I’m also interested in studying how patients in the general population — those who do not have access to cancer centers — are treated in order to figure out how to best bring the most recent advances in care to these individuals. My published papers explore a variety of topics, such as treating cancers in elderly and obese patients, combining immunotherapies and treating small-cell and non-small cell lung cancers.
What is your approach to treatment?
My goal is to provide you and your family the most up-to-date, clear information about your disease, prognosis and treatment options, including the latest in clinical trials. Then we can work together to make decisions that are compatible with your beliefs and values. I believe it is my responsibility to provide compassionate, state-of-the-art care within a multidisciplinary team. Because I want to continue seeing advances in therapeutic options for my patients, I’m dedicated to ongoing research and next-generation immunology treatments.
University of Minnesota Medical School, Internal Medicine
Medical Oncology, 2010; Hematology, 2010, American Board of Internal Medicine
Teaching Appointment, Medical College of Wisconsin