Asma Dilawari, MD, is a medical oncologist in the Breast Cancer Department at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and MedStar Washington Hospital Center’s Washington Cancer Institute. She is board certified in medical oncology and is a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
Dr. Dilawari focuses on the treatment of breast cancer using standard cancer care therapies such as medication, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and endocrine therapies. In addition to standard therapies, Dr. Dilawari participates in several clinical research studies available at both institutions. She recommends both therapeutic studies as well as those assessing psychosocial and behavioral correlates to treatment.
Dr. Dilawari is passionate about integrating palliative care and supportive care into standard oncology practice by using all therapies available to improve the patient’s experience. She believes in considering integrative therapies in the treatment of cancer. She refers patients to providers who apply integrative, complementary therapies such as acupuncture, mindfulness, massage therapy, and psychosocial health therapies and has worked closely with the MedStar Center of Integrative Medicine since its opening in 2016. She believes these are important strategies that can help to improve the patient’s mental health, aid in stress relief, and reduce side effects from standard therapies, as well as enhance long-term survivorship care.
Dr. Dilawari is Principal Investigator for several clinical research studies in breast cancer care and a member of the Alliance Cooperative Group Breast Committee. She also participates in the Cancer Prevention and Control Department at Georgetown University, collaborating with several researchers in their studies.
Her research interests include long-term care and general health and wellness after breast cancer treatment. She’s also interested in links between obesity and weight gain as they relate to the long-term health of cancer patients as well as the use of integrative therapies and their effects on cancer care.
Dr. Dilawari received her medical degree from The University of Tennessee College of Medicine and trained at George Washington University for an internship and residency in internal medicine. She then completed a three-year fellowship in hematology and oncology at New York University (NYU) Medical Center followed by research at NYU. She has participated in research in Pakistan and Brazil during her education and training years in addition to a project about end of life after her father’s death from pancreatic cancer. Some of her research has focused on healthcare disparities, a topic that has influenced her current perspective on healthcare.
Dr. Dilawari is proficient in Urdu and Hindi.
Philosophy of Care
“I’m not just a medical oncologist, I’m also familiar with the effects that a diagnosis of cancer, as well as cancer treatment, has on the patient as well as the patient’s family.
“I believe that taking care of someone after a breast cancer diagnosis is a partnership between the healthcare team and the patient. It requires communication and commitment from every side to do what’s best for someone’s overall health. Each person’s wishes and goals are unique. It’s important to have an open discussion about what a particular person wants in the future and what their goals are, whether they are short-term or long-term.
“A big part of what we do is education and discussing the rationale for certain therapies. It’s important for patients to have knowledge about their treatment options so that they can make informed decisions. I am open to thinking outside the box with regards to cancer care. I don’t treat every patient with a protocol. I want to hear about other stressors in an individual’s life as well as things that might affect their care. Even if it’s not directly related with their cancer diagnosis, it allows me to construct a personalized treatment plan for each individual.
“Referring physicians should expect clear communication from me. As a partner in the care of each patient, I hope that they remain a part of the cancer care team.”