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Barbara Burtness, MD

Internal Medicine, Medical Oncology
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Patient type treated
Accepting new patients
Referral required
From patients or physicians


Barbara Burtness, MD, is a Yale Medicine medical oncologist who sees patients at Yale Cancer Center. She has made it her life’s mission to help people diagnosed with head and neck cancer, which can be a devastating disease even after it is cured—it can impact a person’s appearance, as well as the ability to speak, swallow, and eat.

“Patients often encounter unpleasant outcomes that can include difficulty swallowing solid foods, impaired nutrition, aspiration, and feeding tube dependence,” says Dr. Burtness. “Younger patients may have to deal with these side effects for decades after cancer treatment.”

A careful treatment approach can help prevent these problems. She and her team evaluate the tumor location and decide which primary treatment (surgery or radiation therapy) will best cure the cancer and cause the fewest possible negative outcomes.

A professor of medicine at Yale School of Medicine, Dr. Burtness’ research lab is actively studying new cures for head and neck cancers. “We want to help improve these patients’ quality of life,” she says. 


  • Professor of Medicine (Medical Oncology)
  • Interim Associate Cancer Center Director, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Disease Aligned Research Team Leader, Head and Neck Cancers Program
  • Co-Leader, Developmental Therapeutics, Yale Cancer Center

Education & Training

  • Fellowship
    Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (1993)
  • Residency
    Yale-New Haven Hospital (1989)
  • Internship
    Yale-New Haven Hospital (1987)
  • MD
    SUNY at Stonybrook (1986)
  • AB
    Bryn Mawr College (1982)

Languages Spoken

  • English
  • Deutsch (German)

Additional Information

  • Yale Cancer Center - Melanoma Program
    Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven
    35 Park Street, Ste North Pavilion 8
    New Haven, CT, 06511
  • Smilow Cancer Hospital Head and Neck Cancers Program
    55 Park Street
    Ste Phase I Clinical Trial Infusion Center
    New Haven, CT, 06511