Oncologist Dr. Merrill Shum Named Top Doctor 2021


Photo Credit: Brandon Ramirez

Local Oncologist and Hematologist Dr. Merrill Shum awarded Top Doctor 2021 by California Magazine and 2021 Super Doctor in his respective category by Los Angeles Magazine. Working out of The Oncology Institute clinic in Whittier, he also sees patients at Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital (PIH) also located in Whittier. Dr. Shum, alongside his staff, have helped many patients local to Whittier and the surrounding area. As an Oncologist and Hematologist, Dr. Shum specifically treats patients suffering from cancer and blood diseases. His work also incorporates the use of new treatments, and working closely with patients and their other doctors. 


Dr. Shum has a notable history with his profile on The Oncology Institute’s website marking early achievements. These include Southern California’s Rising Star Award from Los Angeles Magazine from 2013 to 2015. He is also well published, with his profile further noting his “ 23 publications that can be found in the American Journal of Medicine, American Journal of Hematology, American Journal of Clinical Oncology, Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, Annals of Oncology, Blood, Proceedings American Journal of Clinical Oncology, Cancer Research, and the Journal of Thoracic Oncology. He has also submitted another abstract to the American Society of Hematology, December 2021.” However, despite his many notable accomplishments, Dr. Shum prefers not to take all the credit. 

Honesty is the Best Policy

“”It’s not about me” says Dr. Shum when asked for a statement, “ It’s not about awards or stuff we get. It’s about the patients. It’s always been a team effort”. In his statement Dr. Shum made a point to focus on how much more important the patient was than himself, noting “It’s about what they can take.” 


Honesty with patients is one of his main goals. “When I first met Shum, he told me honestly that I would need to be on treatment for the rest of my life,” says longtime patient Yvonne Ramirez. Ramirez was diagnosed with a highly aggressive form of stage four metastatic breast cancer in 2017. She describes the location where cancer cells had been found as “if someone had shot me with a cancer shotgun”. 


“But then he said,” recounts Ramirez, “that we were going to be good friends, like family. And we are”. She notes, “I’ve been his patient for five years now, and he’s a great doctor”. Ramirez’s treatments have been on the cutting edge of cancer treatments, however both she and Dr. Shum constantly work towards finding a balance suitable for her. Dr. Shum’s impact on his patients becomes clear immediately when speaking with them. Ramirez in particular joking about him, and genuinely referring to him as a friend. It’s clear to both Dr. Shum and his patients that his primary focus is their wellbeing, comfort, and their trust.