Renata R. Urban, MD
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
University of Washington School of Medicine
Being a physician allows for constant learning, not only from my colleagues but also from my patients.”
What drew you to the field of gynecologic oncology?
Many gynecologic cancers can be treated through surgery, and I really enjoy that aspect of my practice. Surgery is the ultimate exercise in mental focus: It requires dexterity, knowledge of anatomy and the ability to concentrate on what’s right in front of you. In some ways, it’s almost like meditation. What I also appreciate about this field is that I treat patients throughout the continuum of their disease, providing not only surgical care but other forms of treatment, such as chemotherapy. The range of care I provide and the way I get to work with patients and families over time can lead to some very special relationships.
Specialties and clinical expertise
The branch of medicine a provider practices and their areas of focus
I am a board-certified oncologist who specializes in the treatment of gynecologic cancers. These malignancies can affect a variety of female reproductive organs including the ovaries, uterus and cervix, among others. My expertise includes minimally invasive and robotic surgery, gynecologic cancer therapy, perioperative and supportive care, genetic assessment and cancer prevention. I also study health outcomes and the cost of care for ovarian cancer.
In addition to caring for patients and conducting research, I am dedicated to teaching early-career physicians and those still in training. I work with medical students, residents and fellows and lead initiatives that shape the practice of graduate and undergraduate medical education.
What personal experiences have informed your approach to care?
One of my relatives had ovarian cancer, and since I was the only one in the family with medical expertise, she often turned to me to help explain what was happening. She asked a lot of frank questions about her prognosis, the decline of her health and even death. This experience reminded me that patients sometimes want to ask their physicians tough questions, but they may not always feel comfortable doing so. My job is to provide a safe environment for you to discuss whatever you need to. Sometimes, in the context of those discussions, people want to know if there’s any hope. I say that hope exists in many forms, some less obvious than others; for example, hope can mean wanting to attend a grandchild’s wedding or to visit family for Christmas. While it can be necessary to reframe unrealistic expectations, I believe there’s always room for hope.
Boston University School of Medicine
Stanford University Medical Center, Obstetrics & Gynecology
Stanford University Medical Center, Gynecologic Oncology
Gynecologic Oncology, 2015; Obstetrics & Gynecology, 2009, American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology
Internship, Stanford University Medical Center