Rafael Santana-Davila, MD

Rafael Santana-Davila, MD

Rafael Santana-Davila, MD

  • Medical Director, Infusion and Pharmacy Services, Fred Hutch
  • Associate Professor, Clinical Research Division, Fred Hutch
  • Associate Professor, Division of Hematology and Oncology, University of Washington School of Medicine

Medical Oncology

“My patients teach me life lessons that make me a better person.”

— Dr. Santana-Davila

What is your approach to treatment?

My goal is to provide you and your family the most up-to-date, clear information about your disease, prognosis and treatment options, including the latest in clinical trials. Then we can work together to make decisions that are compatible with your beliefs and values. I believe it is my responsibility to provide compassionate, state-of-the-art care within a multidisciplinary team. Because I want to continue seeing advances in therapeutic options for my patients, I’m dedicated to ongoing research and next-generation immunology treatments.

What do you love about your job?

Originally from Mexico City, I was drawn to my career in medicine because of two things: the inspiration and influence of my father — an accomplished physician himself — and my interest in the science of the human body. I developed a fascination with trying to understand why cancer develops. As an oncologist, I have the privilege of helping patients go through one of the most difficult phases of their lives. They teach me life lessons every single day. I’m indebted to them for helping me focus on the joys of life.

Provider Background

Area of Clinical Practice

Head and neck cancers, thoracic cancers

Lung, Head and Neck, Thyroid Cancers

I am a medical oncologist who specializes in treating patients with lung and head and neck cancers. In the last decade, there’s been significant progress in the way we treat these cancers. Exciting new therapies have proven to be effective. We’ve come a long way, but there’s still so much work to do — and that’s why I’m committed to ongoing research.

My interests include harnessing the immune system in treating virus-associated cancers and designing and implementing clinical trials to establish new, life-saving treatments. I’m also interested in studying how patients in the general population — those who do not have access to cancer centers — are treated in order to figure out how to best bring the most recent advances in care to these individuals. My published papers explore a variety of topics, such as treating cancers in elderly and obese patients, combining immunotherapies and treating small-cell and non-small cell lung cancers.

Diseases Treated



Education, Experience and Certifications

Medical Degree
Universidad Anahuac

University of Minnesota Medical School, Internal Medicine

Mayo Clinic

Board Certification
Medical Oncology, 2010; Hematology, 2010, American Board of Internal Medicine

Teaching Appointment, Medical College of Wisconsin

Clinical Trials

We make promising new treatments available to you through studies called clinical trials led by Fred Hutch physicians. Many of these trials at Fred Hutch have led to FDA-approved treatments and have improved standards of care globally. Together, you and your physician can decide if a study is right for you. 

Find a Clinical Trial Led by Dr. Santana-Davila


Many of our Fred Hutch 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 Fred Hutch physician has written. 

View Dr. Santana-Davila'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 physicians, a patient care coordinator, a registered nurse, an advanced practice provider and others, based on your needs. You also have access to experts like registered dietitians, 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