Veena Shankaran, MD, MS

Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
Associate Professor, Division of Medical Oncology
University of Washington School of Medicine
Co-Director Hutchinson Institute for Cancer Outcomes Research (HICOR)
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Associate Professor Public Health Sciences Division; Associate Professor, Clinical Research Division
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Medical Oncology
“I believe in providing you and your family with the resources to navigate your illness and treatment course with self-assurance and dignity.”
— Dr. Shankaran
Why do you focus on treating gastrointestinal (GI) cancers?

GI cancers are a diverse group of life-threatening diseases; collectively they’re the most common form of cancer in the United States. While significant advances have been made in the way these diseases are treated, there is still room for improvement. I’m passionate about identifying new therapies for GI cancers and increasing the number of clinical trials available. Cancers affecting the gut can also have a major impact on a person’s quality of life — making it difficult for them to enjoy a meal with friends and family. I find it rewarding to help people live not only longer, but better, and participate in the aspects life that give it meaning, like eating and socializing. 

What’s it like working with you?

I believe in providing you and your family with the resources to navigate your illness and treatment course with self-assurance and dignity. I enjoy getting to know my patients, explaining what the latest science has to say and discussing what clinical trials are available. There’s been a lot of progress in GI cancer therapy in recent years, and I look forward to sharing that information with you. We’ll work together to develop a treatment plan that is based on the evidence as well as your particular needs and circumstances.

Provider background

Specialty: Medical Oncology

Gastrointestinal cancers

I am a board-certified medical oncologist who specializes in GI malignancies. My primary clinical interest is in cancers of the stomach and esophagus; however, I care for patients with a variety of tumors affecting the digestive system. At SCCA, I am also working with colleagues to increase access to novel treatment options by expanding the GI cancer clinical trial program.

In addition to working with patients, I am the co-director of the Hutchinson Institute for Cancer Outcomes Research. Based at Fred Hutch, this research institute studies health care economics and policy. My research focuses on the out-of-pocket costs that patients with GI cancers experience as well as the cost-effectiveness of cancer therapy; I study how to deliver great care without wasting resources. As a national leader in financial toxicity research, I currently lead the largest prospective cooperative group study to assess financial outcomes for patients with cancer through the SWOG Cancer Research Network. In addition, I serve on SWOG’s Cancer Care Delivery Research Committee.

Diseases treated

Education, experience and certifications
Undergraduate Degree
Dartmouth College
Medical Degree
University of Michigan School of Medicine
University of Michigan, Internal Medicine
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Hematology-Oncology
Board Certification
Medical Oncology, 2009, American Board of Internal Medicine
Seattle Business Magazine's Gold Award for Achievement in Medical Research

Dr. Shankaran received this award in 2019 for her research about the financial strain faced by patients with cancer and her efforts to lessen the impact of costly treatments.


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:
Financial Navigation Intervention in Improving Financial and Clinical Outcomes in Patients With Newly Diagnosed Gastric or Gastroesophageal Junction Adenocarcinoma
Complete title
Pilot Randomized Study of a Proactive Financial Navigation Intervention in Patients with Newly Diagnosed Gastric and Gastroesophageal Junction (GEJ) Adenocarcinoma
Study ID:
APX005M With Concurrent Chemoradiation for Resectable Esophageal and Gastroesophageal Junction Cancers
Complete title
A Phase 2 Study of APX005M in Combination with Concurrent Chemoradiation as Neoadjuvant Therapy for Resectable Esophageal and Gastroesophageal Junction Cancers
Study ID:
A Study to Test Combination Treatments in Patients With Advanced Gastric Cancer (FRACTION-GC)
Complete title
A Phase 2, Fast Real-Time Assessment of Combination Therapies in Immuno-Oncology Study in Participants with Advanced Gastric Cancer (FRACTION-Gastric)


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.


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

Veena Shankaran, MD, on Colorectal Cancer: Cumulative Financial Hardship of Treatment

SCCA's Veena Shankaran, MD, was interviewed by The ASCO Post about her ASCO Quality Care Symposium presentation on findings from a study on financial hardships among patients with metastatic colorectal cancer.

The cumulative incidence of financial hardship amongst metastatic colorectal cancer patients: an interview with Veena Shankaran

SCCA's Veena Shankaran, MD, was interviewed by The Evidence Base discussing her ASCO 2020 virtual presentation on financial hardships among colon cancer patients. 

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.
Leslie A. Swanson, ARNP
Leslie A. Swanson, ARNP
Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner
Advanced Practice Provider
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.

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