Research Week Speaker Q&A: Shelley Hwang, MD

Shelley Hwang, MD
Mary and Deryl Hart Professor of Surgery

In 1-3 sentences, please describe your research interests for a general audience.

Improvements in technology have allowed for effective cancer screening, which has reaped benefits that have translated into reduced cancer mortality. However, screening also identifies very early lesions that are called "cancer" but which may never be clinically meaningful. The dilemma of how to provide population-based cancer screening while reducing the harms of overtreatment is at a fascinating crossroads of medicine, cancer biology, technology development, sociology, and health policy.  

Why is this research important?

We are identifying ever more sensitive and sophisticated tools for cancer detection. However, our technology is outstripping our ability to know what to do with this information. Gathering evidence and developing tools to help patients make good health care choices is absolutely essential to maintaining good health and quality of life.

What excites you most about the future of this research? 

Driving both cutting-edge technology and health care policy towards improving cancer outcomes is a pursuit that calls for creativity and imagination. The ability to predict the fate of cancer from its very earliest detectable manifestation is just around the corner. It is exciting to know that one day soon we will know how to give the right therapy instead of just more therapy. We will all benefit from that.