David R. Byrd, MD

David R. Byrd, MD
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David R. Byrd, MD

  • Physician, Fred Hutch
  • Professor, Surgery, University of Washington School of Medicine
  • Section Chief of Surgical Oncology, UW Medicine


“When I enter the consultation room, I am 100 percent focused on you.”

— Dr. Byrd

Why do you practice oncology?

Life throws us all curveballs; it’s not a question of whether you will get them, it’s when. Fueled by a love of anatomy, I learned early on that I wanted to support people whose lives had been knocked off course by cancer. This desire only grew stronger when I traveled to India and Pakistan after my general surgery residency to do volunteer medical work. My experiences as a surgical oncologist have taught me that it’s the quality of our time in this world that counts, and the time I have spent treating patients with cancer — learning about their lives and helping them overcome health obstacles — has been tremendously rewarding.

How do you help patients?

Regardless of your diagnosis, I want to make sure you walk out of the clinic feeling better than when you walked in. I am always forthright, but I never take away hope. One of the things I value about Fred Hutch is how patient-centered it is, and my approach mirrors the belief that what you care about and what you need always takes center stage. I see my role as bringing in the evidence — what we know about treatment and prognosis — and mapping that information onto your goals, so we can form a care plan that reflects your unique preferences.

Provider Background

Specialty: Surgery

Area of clinical practice

Breast cancers, skin cancers

Breast cancer

As the director of surgery at Fred Hutch, I have a diverse interest in the management of several different solid tumors. Breast cancer is one of my areas of expertise. I was the first surgeon to bring the sentinel lymph node biopsy to the Pacific Northwest; this technique improved the management of breast cancer, and other cancers, by more accurately determining whether the disease has spread to the lymphatic system, eliminating the need for more invasive surgery. I have also published articles on topics including node-positive breast cancer, tumor detection and complications of breast cancer treatment such as lymphedema.

Melanoma, Merkel cell carcinoma and other skin cancers

I provide comprehensive surgical care for melanoma and other skin cancers through Fred Hutch’s Skin Oncology Clinic. Outside of patient care, I have led the development of staging systems for malignant melanoma, as well as other cancers, and I actively conduct research to improve the standard of care. For example, I co-led a study demonstrating that removing key sentinel lymph nodes from most patients with early-stage melanoma led to the same long-term survival rates as fully removing additional lymph nodes. Sentinel lymph node removal is associated with improved health outcomes and fewer complications.

Diseases Treated



Education, Experience and Certifications

Undergraduate Degree
Tulane University

Medical Degree
Tulane University School of Medicine

MD Anderson Cancer Center, General Surgery

University of Washington, General Surgery


Seattle Met's 2023 Top Doctors award
Dr. Byrd has received this peer-nominated award for exceptional patient care for multiple years.

Seattle magazine's 2021 Top Doctors award
Dr. Byrd has been recognized as a Top Doctor in this peer-nominated award multiple years in a row.

Clinical Trials

We make promising new treatments available to you through studies called clinical trials led by Fred Hutch doctors. Many of these trials at Fred Hutch 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.

View Clinical Trials


Many of our Fred Hutch doctors conduct ongoing research to improve standards of patient care. Their work is evaluated by other doctors and selected for publication to the United States National Library of Medicine, the largest medical library in the world. See scientific papers this Fred Hutch provider has written.

View Dr. Byrd's Publications

Your Care Team

At Fred Hutch, you receive care from a team of providers with extensive experience in your disease. Your team includes doctors, a patient care 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.


Fred Hutch 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.

For the Media

The Media Relations team at Fred Hutch is available to assist members of the news media who would like to arrange interviews with providers.

Email media@fredhutch.org or call 206.667.2210