Shaveta Vinayak, MD, MS

Physician
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
Assistant Professor, Medical Oncology
University of Washington School of Medicine
Assistant Professor, Clinical Research Division
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Specialty:
Medical Oncology
“Oncology is a perfect blend of science and humanism — you have to take care of the whole person.”
— Dr. Vinayak
Why do you work with patients who have breast cancer?

I tend to see a lot of younger women and women with families. I find that I can relate easily to their lives and their concerns, like how treatment may affect their fertility or how to support themselves as well as their young children. I’m also a big proponent of women’s health; I enjoy teaching women how to take care of themselves, educating them about what having breast cancer really means and how treatment may affect them. The other great thing about this field is that it’s very data-driven. There’s a wealth of breast cancer literature to draw from that helps us make good treatment decisions. Breast cancer isn’t a journey that anybody wants to go on, but through my expertise and positive attitude, I strive to offer my patients hope.

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What is your approach to care and treatment?

I’ve dealt with cancer in my own family, so I understand what it’s like to be on the other side of this experience and the stress it puts on relationships. When first diagnosed, many people feel an overwhelming anxiety. I like to help you work through that by breaking down the process of treatment into more manageable chunks, taking it one step at a time. Research is also a big part of what I do, so I make a point of talking about clinical trials that may be appropriate. Participating in trials can be a chance to advance your own care and the field of breast cancer in general.

Provider background

Specialty: Medical Oncology

Area of clinical practice

Breast cancers

Breast cancer

I am a medical oncologist who specializes in the treatment of breast cancer. My research is focused on an aggressive subtype known as triple-negative breast cancer, which tends to affect younger people and those with a BRCA1 gene mutation. I design and lead clinical trials that explore targeted therapies like immune checkpoint inhibitors, which help the immune system recognize and attack cancer cells, and PARP inhibitors, a type of drug that may prevent cancer cells from fixing the damage caused by chemotherapy. PARP inhibitors may hold particular promise for people with BRCA-related cancers. In addition to treating patients and conducting research, I also lead education seminars about triple-negative breast cancer for African American women, who are three times more likely to be diagnosed with this form of cancer than women of other ethnicities.

Chemotherapy Treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. It may be given alone or with other treatments. Treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. Chemotherapy may be given by mouth, injection, infusion or on the skin, depending on the type and stage of the cancer being treated. It may be given alone or with other treatments, such as surgery, radiation therapy or biologic therapy. Gene The functional and physical unit of heredity passed from parent to offspring. Genes are pieces of DNA, and most genes contain the information for making a specific protein. Medical oncologist A physician who has special training in diagnosing and treating cancer in adults using chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, biological therapy and targeted therapy. A physician who has special training in diagnosing and treating cancer in adults using chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, biological therapy and targeted therapy. A medical oncologist is often the main health care provider for someone who has cancer. A medical oncologist also gives supportive care and may coordinate treatment given by other specialists. Mutation Any change in the DNA sequence of a cell. Mutations may be caused by mistakes during cell division, or they may be caused by exposure to DNA-damaging agents in the environment. Any change in the DNA sequence of a cell. Mutations may be caused by mistakes during cell division, or they may be caused by exposure to DNA-damaging agents in the environment. Mutations can be harmful, beneficial or have no effect. If they occur in cells that make eggs or sperm, they can be inherited; mutations that occur in other types of cells are not inherited. Certain mutations may lead to cancer or other diseases. A mutation is sometimes called a variant. Targeted therapy A type of treatment that uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific types of cancer cells while causing less harm to normal cells. A type of treatment that uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific types of cancer cells while causing less harm to normal cells. Some targeted therapies block the action of certain enzymes, proteins or other molecules involved in the growth and spread of cancer cells. Other types of targeted therapies help the immune system kill cancer cells, or they deliver toxic substances directly to cancer cells and kill them. Targeted therapy may have fewer side effects than other types of cancer treatment. Most targeted therapies are either small molecule drugs or monoclonal antibodies.

Diseases treated

Education, experience and certifications
Medical Degree
Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine
Residency
Montefiore Medical Center-Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Internal Medicine
Fellowship
Stanford University Hospital, Medical Oncology and Research
Board Certification
Internal Medicine, 2007; Medical Oncology, 2012, American Board of Internal Medicine
Other
MS, Georgetown University School of Medicine
Languages
English
Hindi

Research

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.

Publications

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.

Press

SCCA providers are often asked to give their medical expertise for press and news publications. Read articles by or about this SCCA provider.

COVID-19 Positive with Breast Cancer

SCCA's Shaveta Vinayak, MD, MS, was featured on a Patient Power panel discussing advice for breast cancer patients who test positive for COVID-19. 

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.
Patient care coordinator
Patient care coordinator
Your patient care coordinator works closely with you and your physician and serves as your scheduler.

Insurance

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.

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