Upendra Parvathaneni, MD, FRANCR
Head and neck cancers are unique because, unlike many other cancers, it’s possible to achieve a cure through radiation alone. With that possibility comes a lot of responsibility; the head and neck can be difficult areas to treat because of all the critical structures that can be affected — cranial nerves and organs vital to speech, vision, hearing and swallowing, for example. Many of my patients are in their 40s and 50s; they have a lot of life ahead of them, and the quality of those days and years is very important to me. I enjoy the challenge of achieving the best result possible while leaving patients with minimal side effects.
There’s no cookbook approach to treating head and neck cancer; no single recipe works for every patient. Everything about the care I provide is tailored to the individual in front of me, from the relationship we develop to my recommendations for treatment. My goal is to address not only your disease, but also the anxiety and fear that accompanies a cancer diagnosis. I’m very open and honest in my communication, and in most situations, I’m able to offer you a very accurate picture of what to expect. Most importantly, as your physician, I’m always on your side.
Specialties and clinical expertise: Radiation Oncology
I am a board-certified radiation oncologist who treats patients with head and neck cancers and skin cancers. Within my practice at SCCA and UW Medical Center, I provide care for patients with rare diseases like Merkel cell carcinoma. My expertise includes all types of radiation modalities, such as standard x-ray treatments, proton therapy and neutron therapy. Standard radiation treatments use electrons or photons; neutron therapy uses beams of neutrons, which are more powerful and have proven effective in treating cancers such as salivary gland tumors. UW Medical Center is one of only three facilities in the United States to offer neutron therapy.
One of the advantages of working in an academic setting is being able to identify gaps in knowledge through my clinical practice that I can try to address through research. Currently, I’m studying how to integrate immunotherapy with neutron therapy. My other research interests include improving the treatment of head and neck cancer as well as studying the optimal timing of surgery and radiation in the treatment of Merkel cell carcinoma. In addition to caring for patients and conducting research, I’m also active in training the next generation of radiation oncology practitioners.
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.
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.