Top Doctors 2021: A Human Touch

Dr. Eric Chen realized he enjoyed working with patients after an initial interest in research

By Edited and Condensed by Rob Smith

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May 17, 2021

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2021 issue of Seattle Magazine.

Name: Eric Chen, M.D., PhD.

Practice and Hospital Affiliation: Hematology and medical oncology, Kaiser Permanente Bellevue Medical Center and Overlake Hospital

Why did you pick your specialty? Research is what initially drew me into the field. Although I enjoyed research in the laboratory, had wonderful research mentors and considered it as a career, working directly with patients is much more gratifying to me. The feeling of working with talented and compassionate colleagues for the best patient care also drives me. Cancer treatment is a dynamic and quickly-evolving field, and I’m proud to be able to help patients through the many recent major medical advances in oncology.

What do you wish people knew about your specialty? Sometimes there’s the misperception that being a cancer doctor is a gloomy and depressing job. However, even though there will always be hard days, there will also always be optimism since many previously incurable cancers are now better controlled with more effective and less toxic cancer medications, giving our patients the chance to enjoy an excellent quality of life. New drugs have been more quickly emerging, which improve cancer survival and reduce treatment side effects. I’m fortunate to work with a dedicated, hard-working team that provides outstanding care to patients. Additionally, during the pandemic, we know that cancer screenings dropped off significantly in Washington state. It’s important to know that continuing cancer screenings on a regular basis is absolutely key to early detection, so be sure to check with your physician on when you are due for your next screening test.

How will the pandemic change your practice? Like many practices in the healthcare industry, more of our work is now conducted by the telephone, video or by secure messaging/email due to the need to limit in-person interaction. Maintaining and nurturing relationships with our patients and their families via virtual visits is critically important in cancer treatment. Throughout the pandemic, our team has learned how to adapt to these changes to support our patients.  Moving forward, we will continue to make adjustments to make sure our patients continue to receive the most compassionate cancer care. 

This feature is a part of our 21st annual list of the region’s best physicians. View the list here. 

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