Pictured: David Pfister

David G. Pfister, MD

Medical Oncologist


Chief, Head and Neck Oncology Service; Associate Deputy Physician-in-Chief, Strategic Partnerships

Clinical Expertise

Head and Neck Cancers (Larynx/Upper Aerodigestive, Thyroid, Salivary Gland, Skin); Lung Cancer; Genitourinary Malignancies; Larynx/Organ-Preserving Therapies; Immunotherapy; Outcomes Research

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Accepted Insurance Providers

Dr. Pfister accepts the following list of insurance providers. Select your insurance provider to see more details.

Contact and Location

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Find a Convenient Location

Memorial Sloan Kettering has locations throughout New York City, Long Island, New Jersey, and Westchester. These locations offers many services, including screening, chemotherapy, and medical testing.

About Me


MD, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine


Internal Medicine - Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania


Clinical Epidemiology/Internal Medicine - Yale-New Haven Hospital/Yale University School of Medicine; Medical Oncology and Hematology - Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; Medicine - Weill Cornell Medical College

Board Certifications

Internal Medicine; Medical Oncology

I am a medical oncologist with more than 20 years of experience in treating patients with a broad spectrum of head and neck malignancies including tumors of the mouth, throat, thyroid, salivary glands, and skin. For these years of service, I was honored to receive Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Willet F. Whitmore Award for Clinical Excellence in 2011.

As Chief of the Head and Neck Oncology Service and Co-Leader of our multidisciplinary disease management team, I work closely with an esteemed and highly coordinated group of medical oncologists, surgeons, radiation oncologists, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to provide our patients with the very best care possible.

Collaborative, multidisciplinary care is especially important for cancers of the head and neck because, generally speaking, treatment not only involves a potentially deadly disease but also issues related to physical appearance, function, and quality of life. An approach that I pioneered with Memorial Sloan Kettering colleagues — known as combined modality organ preservation therapy — uses a combination of chemotherapy and radiation to avoid certain surgical procedures feared by patients such as removal of the voice box, with the intent of  preserving function and cosmetic appearance without compromising survival.

My current research is focused on evaluating new forms of chemotherapy called targeted therapies, which selectively kill cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone. I am also developing customized combined modality therapies based on prognostic risk, and assessing healthcare outcomes.

I have published extensively, previously serving as an associate editor for Clinical Cancer Research and on the editorial board of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, and have been principal investigator on multiple studies.

In addition to being a member of the board of directors for the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, I chair the organization’s head and neck cancer practice guidelines panel. I am also on the board of directors for the International Thyroid Oncology Group, and am co-chair of the Head and Neck Cancer Recurrent/Metastatic Disease Task Force at the National Cancer Institute. Here at Memorial Sloan Kettering, I chair the Committee on Metrics of Care Quality and Outcome.

Awards and Honors

  • Castle Connolly: New York Magazine Top Doctors (2005-2008, 2010-2018)


Doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering work as teams, with specialists from all different areas. This allows us to consider all your needs together, and to give you the best possible care.

Clinical Trials

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Find a Clinical Trial for You

Memorial Sloan Kettering's doctors and scientists are constantly developing new treatments for cancer. MSK is typically running hundreds of clinical trials at a given time.

You may be able to participate in a clinical trial even if you are new to MSK. Search our online directory to find trial information and see more about who can participate.

Research and Publications

Publications on PubMed

Visit PubMed for a full listing of Dr. Pfister’s journal articles. Pubmed is an online index of research papers and other articles from the US National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.