Rafael Santana-Davila, MD

Medical Director, Infusion and Pharmacy Services; Attending Physician
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
Associate Professor, Medicine and Oncology
University of Washington School of Medicine
UW Medicine
Associate Professor, Clinical Research Division
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Medical Oncology
“My patients teach me life lessons that make me a better person.”
— Dr. Santana-Davila
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.

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.

Provider background

Specialty: Medical Oncology

Lung, head and neck, thyroid cancers

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.

Diseases treated

Education, experience and certifications
Medical Degree
Universidad Anahuac
University of Minnesota Medical School, Internal Medicine
Mayo Clinic
Board Certification
Medical Oncology, 2010; Hematology, 2010, American Board of Internal Medicine
Teaching Appointment, Medical College of Wisconsin


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.

Study ID:
Complete title
An Observational Study of PET/CT Changes during Chemoimmunotherapy and Radiation Therapy for Patients with Metastatic NSCLC
Study ID:
A Study to Evaluate Enfortumab Vedotin in Subjects With Previously Treated Locally Advanced or Metastatic Malignant Solid Tumors (EV-202)
Complete title
An Open-label, Multicenter, Multicohort, Phase 2 Study to Evaluate Enfortumab Vedotin in Subjects with Previously Treated Locally Advanced or Metastatic Malignant Solid Tumors
Study ID:
A Study of ALX148 in Patients With Advanced Solid Tumors and Lymphoma
Complete title
A Phase 1, Dose Escalation Study of ALX148 in Patients with Advanced Solid Tumors and Lymphoma


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.
Registered nurse (RN)
Registered nurse (RN)
Your nurse manages your care alongside your physician and assists with care procedures and treatments.
Team coordinator (TC)
Team coordinator (TC)
Your team 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.

For providers