Dr. Howard Jack West
Dr. Howard Jack West is a medical oncologist and medical director of the Thoracic Oncology and Genitourinary Oncology Programs at Seattle’s Swedish Cancer Institute, the largest private oncology center in the Pacific Northwest. His work fighting lung cancers, including pleural mesothelioma, as well as prostate, bladder, testicular and other cancers has earned him repeated recognition as a “Top Doctor” by Seattle Metropolitan Magazine, an honor voted on by his medical peers. Dr. West is founder of the Global Resource for Advancing Cancer Education (GRACE).
After earning his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University in 1990, Dr. West received a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship to the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, where he received a master’s degree in experimental biology. He returned to the U.S. to attend Harvard Medical School, where he completed research as a medical student fellow of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. After earning his MD magna cum laude in 1996, Dr. West trained at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston for an internal medicine internship and residency. He then moved to Seattle to train in medical oncology at the University of Washington/Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, where he developed his expertise in lung cancer and mesothelioma.
In this video, created for Dr. West’s Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance blog, he discusses what mesothelioma patients can expect during chemotherapy treatment.
Clinical and Laboratory Research
The Swedish Cancer Institute is one of the country’s leading hospitals for the treatment of mesothelioma. (In fact, the Pacific Northwest has the highest per capita incidence of mesothelioma, largely because of the area’s many shipyards, which exposed numerous people to asbestos.) Much of Dr. West’s research focuses on pleural mesothelioma and other cancers of the lungs, and he has led numerous clinical trials in search of better treatment options for the disease. He has also completed studies on the outcomes of induction chemotherapy, extrapleural pneumonectomy, and adjuvant radiation therapy for malignant mesothelioma patients.
Addressing the needs of individual patients remains at the forefront of Dr. West’s philosophy of care. “My primary goal is to provide optimal balance of appropriate, aggressive treatment and a good quality of life,” he said. “This requires individualized plans based on a patient's particular goals and medical issues.” For many patients, Dr. West explains, a treatment plan will include a chemotherapy combination of cisplatin and Alimta, but there are alternatives for patients who can’t tolerate that regimen, such as the often better-tolerated carboplatin.
In addition to his work in lung cancer, Dr. West conducts clinical research in prostate cancer and genitourinary oncology, a field of oncology concerned with bladder, kidney and testicular cancers.
In 2007, Dr. West founded a nonprofit medical education forum called Global Resource for Advancing Cancer Education (GRACE), which addresses a range of cancer topics and provides educational materials for its members; he continues to serve as the organization’s CEO. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Washington State Medical Oncology Society and holds a faculty appointment at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
Dr. West has served on a number of medical committees, including the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO) Education Committee (Lung Cancer Track), the Washington State Medical Oncology Society Medical Care Committee, and the Institutional Review Board of Cancer Research and Biostatistics (CRAB). He participates on the editorial board of the Journal of Clinical Oncology and is a reviewer for more than a dozen peer-reviewed journals, including Cancer, Cancer Letters, and the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
In addition to being named a “Best Doctor” by Seattle Magazine, Dr. West is part of the Innovators in Lung Cancer International Program, was a finalist in the GlaxoSmithKline National Medical Oncology Fellows’ Forum for oral presentation, and was named a Southwest Oncology Group Young Investigator, among other honors
Dr. West has authored dozens of journal papers, invited manuscripts, book chapters and abstracts about mesothelioma and other lung cancers, including:
Miller DL, Vallieres EC, West H, Okuno SH, Marks RS. Operative morbidity and mortality after induction chemotherapy and extrapleural pneumonectomy for malignant pleural mesothelioma. Proceedings of the European Association for Cardiothoracic Surgery 2002; 16.
Vallieres E, West HL, Hunt K, Einck J, & Stelzer K. Induction chemotherapy, extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP), and adjuvant radiation therapy for malignant pleural mesothelioma: a case series. Proceedings of the American Society of Clinical Oncology 2001; 20: 279b (#2867).
Green, MR.West H, & Socinski, MA. Impact of the ASCO 2007 Presentation of HOG Lun 01-24 / USO-023 on the Prescribing Plans of American Medical Oncologists for Patients with Stage IIIB Non-small Cell Lung Cancer. J Thor Oncol 2009; 4: 983-987.
West H, Harpole D, & Travis W. Histologic considerations for individualized systemic therapy approaches for the management of non-small cell lung cancer. CHEST, 2009: 136; 1112-1118.
West HL, Wakelee HA, Perry MC, Belt RJ, Chen R, & Obasaju C. Gemcitabine and pemetrexed administered in rapid sequence as front-line chemotherapy for advanced non-small cell lung cancer: A phase II clinical trial. Annals of Oncology 2009; 20: 850 -856.
Author: Linda Molinari
Editor in Chief, Mesothelioma Cancer AllianceRead about Linda
Reviewer: Annette Charlevois
Patient Support CoordinatorRead about Annette
Howard L. (Jack) West — Swedish Cancer Institute
Global Resource for Advance Cancer Education (GRACE)