Treatment Options

Customized, targeted therapies informed by the latest medical research

vials in a lab

Access the latest treatments and clinical trials to fight your cancer.

Medical Oncology

Our medical oncologists set the standard of care at one of the top cancer centers in the nation. They work in partnership with you to create and manage your individualized cancer treatment plan.

Radiation Oncology

Our radiation oncologists treat a wide range of cancers, from common diagnoses to extremely rare conditions, with multiple forms of high-energy radiotherapy individualized to your cancer.

Surgical Oncology

UW Medicine’s internationally-recognized surgeons and surgical oncologists have performed thousands of surgeries using advanced techniques informed by the latest research and procedures.

Some of our common services:

Benign tumors are non-cancerous growths in the body. Radiation therapy can treat just about every type of cancer including some noncancerous (benign) tumors. If the tumor cannot be safely accessed for surgery, radiation therapy may be used to help reduce the size of the tumor or prevent it from growing larger.

Bone marrow transplant (BMT) therapy, also known as a blood-forming stem cell transplant, is among the greatest success stories in cancer treatment and offers the best hope for many patients. Bone marrow transplantation has boosted survival rates from nearly zero to more than 85 percent for patients with certain cancers and other diseases. Even more, The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center is the birthplace of this revolutionary and lifesaving treatment. The best therapies are available at UW Medical Center and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance:

  • Autologous transplant, using your own stem cells
  • Allogeneic transplant, using stem cells from a family member, unrelated matching donor, or umbilical cord blood
  • Comprehensive services for related and unrelated donors
  • Access to our extensive offering of specialized stem cell transplant clinical trials
  • Transplantation for adults over age 60

learn more

This is the placement of radioactive sources within or next to a tumor. UW Medicine Radiation Oncology offers high-dose-rate (HDR) brachytherapy, which involves placement of the radiation source into the tumor for several minutes in multiple doses, usually once or twice a day or once or twice a week. Low-dose-rate (LDR) brachytherapy, which involves the placement of the radiation source into the tumor area for several days or permanently, is also available.

learn more

CAR T-cell therapy is a promising new type of immunotherapy where doctors collect a patient’s white blood cells and try to isolate T cells with the most cancer-fighting strength. These cells are then multiplied into billions and reinfused into the patient to work against cancer.

learn more

Today there are more than 100 different chemotherapy drugs available for treating a wide range of cancers. Chemotherapy can prevent the progression of disease or may bring about remission by killing the cancerous cells as they divide. It may be used in combination with radiation or surgery, and some chemotherapy drugs may be available in clinical research trials. Our medical oncologists will help you understand the treatment options for your type of cancer and will work with you to design your individualized treatment.

learn more

Our patients have access to clinical trials through Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and Fred Hutch Cancer Research, known world-wide for their innovative research and development in cancer treatments. These trials are used to test treatments and cures that have shown positive results in previous trials. Your cancer care team and medical oncologist will work with you to determine if you will benefit by participating in a trial for your specific type of cancer.

learn more

This involves the direction of one or multiple beams of radiation through the skin into the cancerous and immediate surrounding areas, destroying the main tumor and any nearby cancer cells.

learn more

We are one of three facilities in the U.S. that offers neutron therapy, drawing patients from all around the world. Fast neutrons are a high linear energy transfer (LET) type of radiation, which means that they deposit 20-100 times more energy along their path than standard X-rays. Because fast neutrons have different radiobiological properties, certain tumors that are resistant to standard radiation respond better to neutrons. Examples of these tumors and cancers are salivary gland tumors, renal cell carcinomas, malignant melanomas, some types of thyroid cancers and adenoid cystic carcinomas arising in various sites. The UW Medical Cyclotron Facility where fast neutron therapy is administered is the only clinical neutron facility in the U.S.

Radiosurgery by gamma knife is a minimally invasive treatment for patients with brain tumors or abnormalities of the brain that are close to delicate structures and blood vessels.

learn more

Hormone therapy is a cancer treatment that slows or stops the growth of cancer relying on hormones to grow. Two kinds of hormonal therapy are available – one type blocks the body’s ability to produce hormones and another interferes with the behavior of hormones in the body. These therapies may be used in combination with other cancer treatments and may also be used to ease symptoms primarily in breast, prostate, uterus and ovarian cancers.

learn more

IGRT uses imaging from a CT scan, ultrasound or X-ray to target tumors that have shifted position, while avoiding nearby healthy tissue.

learn more

Immunotherapy is a type of biological therapy used to treat some cancers by activating the immune system. New immunotherapeutic approaches have been used effectively for Hodgkin lymphoma, melanoma along with lung, kidney and bladder cancers, with clinical trials underway for more than 25 other types of cancer. It can be used alone to treat cancer or combined with other treatments. Immunotherapy generally results in fewer short-term side effects than chemotherapy.

learn more

IMRT allows the radiation beam to be shaped to fit a tumor by breaking the beam into many "beamlets," with the intensity of each beamlet adjusted individually.

learn more

IORT is provided during surgery, allowing radiation to be applied directly to the tumor.

learn more

Medical oncologists specialize in many cancers, treatments and therapies. At UW Medicine and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, you will get an individualized treatment plan and have a team of cancer specialists who work together to provide chemotherapy and other medical treatments in a comfortable setting for you and your family. Your team also works closely with you to manage any side effects and help you take the best possible care of yourself during treatment.

UW Medical Center is recognized every year by U.S. News & World Report as one of the nation’s best hospitals for cancer care with Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center.

Today there are more than 100 different drugs used in chemotherapy, targeted or biologic therapies, and hormonal therapies that are available for treating a wide range of cancers. Your medical oncology team may include:

  • A medical oncologist who oversees your care plan and treatment, and works with radiation oncologists, surgical oncologists and pathologists to provide a comprehensive approach to your care
  • Infusion nurses who administer treatments like chemotherapy and specialize in cancer care
  • Nurse practitioners who work with your physicians and medical oncologist to diagnose and treat cancer, offer preventive care and educate you about your cancer type and treatment
  • Nurse scientist and research nurses who work with research coordinators and your care team on clinical research studies that may improve your quality of life.

You may receive treatment from a medical oncologist at one of the following locations in Seattle:

  • SCCA South Lake Union Outpatient Clinic
  • SCCA Wellness Center
  • UW Medical Center - Northwest
  • University of Washington Medical Center
  • SCCA Proton Therapy Center
  • Seattle Children’s

This is a very rare disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the skin. Merkel cells are found in the top layer of the skin. These cells are very close to the nerve endings that receive the sensation of touch. Merkel cell carcinoma, also called neuroendocrine carcinoma of the skin or trabecular cancer, is a very rare type of skin cancer that forms when Merkel cells grow out of control. Merkel cell carcinoma starts most often in areas of skin exposed to the sun, especially the head and neck, as well as the arms, legs and trunk. Treatment is generally based on the stage of the disease.

learn more

Palliative radiotherapy relieves symptoms and reduces the suffering for patients whose long-term cancer control is not possible. It can also be used to control the symptoms associated with many localized tumors that cannot be treated by other methods (such as surgical removal). For specific cases, we use our leading technologies to help our patients while minimizing risks and side effects. Radiation is usually combined with anti-inflammatory and pain medications to maximize the relief of cancer-related symptoms. About two-thirds of patients have moderate to significant improvement and the effects can last for a few weeks to several months. Decrease in symptoms can occur as quickly as several days after the first treatment, or it may take a few weeks before improvement is seen.

Oncologists specializing in pediatric cancer care are trained to deliver radiation therapy to children and young adults. We incorporate pediatric oncology protocols and participate in clinical trials for the pediatric population. Radiation therapy can be useful in the treatment of nearly any type of cancer that may affect children anywhere in the body, including treating solid tumors in the organs and cancers in the soft tissues (e.g., muscles), bones, brain or blood (e.g., leukemia). Our radiation oncologists minimize damage to healthy tissue by using computerized tomography (CT) to identify critical structures before treatment, as well as intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and proton therapy to deliver more localized, conformed radiation therapy. We have also treated cancers that range in complexity with radiation therapy.

Cancer treatments are not a one-size-fits-all for specific cancers and all patients. Precision medicine is an approach to research and patient care that uses information gained by genetic or molecular profiling to better diagnose and target treatments and therapies for the individual patient. For cancer, UW Medicine specialists can determine a tumor’s genetic makeup and find its mutations, and then they can tailor treatments that are uniquely targeted and effective based on your genetic makeup. Our team will work with you to understand your type of cancer and how precision medicine can apply to your treatment plan.

learn more

UW Medicine, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Seattle Children’s have come together to establish the Brotman Baty Institute for Precision Medicine to advance the field of precision medicine for all patients, including those with cancer. See how we are transforming the way healthcare can be delivered locally and around the world for better patient outcomes.

learn more

Proton beam therapy is FDA-approved technology that delivers external beam radiation with positively charged atomic particles to tumors. Because of its unique radiation dose deposition properties, proton beam therapy delivers radiation to tumors while reducing radiation exposure to surrounding normal tissues. The SCCA Proton Therapy Center at UW Medical Center - Northwest is equipped with the most advanced proton therapy technology available, and the physicians are UW Medicine faculty and have trained and worked at some of the best proton therapy centers nationwide.

learn more

Radiation oncologists at UW Medicine and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, which is now Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, work together to treat adult patients. They will develop a comprehensive and personalized radiation therapy plan for you and will oversee your radiation therapy treatments, track your progress and adjust the treatment to ensure you receive the best care.

U.S. News & World Report recognizes UW Medical Center with Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, which is now Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, every year as one of the nation’s best hospitals for cancer care.

learn more

Radiation therapy is a part of treatment for many patients with cancer. And for each one of our patients, radiation oncologists work with your surgeon and medical oncologist to create a treatment plan that is best for your type of cancer. Your care is provided by an expert team of UW Medicine cancer specialists:

  • A radiation oncologist who specializes in using radiation to treat cancer and works with you to determine your best course of treatment
  • Radiation oncology nurses care for you during and after treatment
  • Radiation therapists partner with your radiation oncologist to administer your radiation treatment
  • Medical physicists ensure that complex treatments are individually tailored for you
  • Dosimetrists carefully calculate the dose of radiation for each treatment

Our services and treatment facilities provide the most comprehensive radiation treatment options available in the world today, on both an inpatient and outpatient basis:

SBRT involves the use of extremely focused beams of radiation, usually in higher doses than daily radiation treatment, to destroy certain types of tumors located outside the brain.

UW Medicine surgical oncologists partner with a team of cancer specialists within the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center to provide treatment plans at the forefront of cancer care. Our surgical teams integrate top technology to increase precision and improve recovery, including one of the most technologically advanced robotic-assisted surgery programs in the Puget Sound region.

U.S. News & World Report recognizes UW Medical Center with Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, which is now Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, every year as one of the nation’s best hospitals for cancer care.

The surgical oncology team will diagnose, stage, treat and help prevent cancers from developing.

  • Surgical oncologists are an integral member of the cancer care team who work with medical and radiation oncologists to establish your treatment plan
  • Anesthesiologists and technologists provide safe and effective pre-surgery care with exceptional post-surgery follow-up care
  • Nurses are magnet-certified and are very important in the overall care; they will help guide you throughout your treatment and during your hospital stay
  • Social workers are trained in cancer care to support you and your family throughout your treatment, hospital stay, and life post-treatment

We have specialized surgery expertise for several cancers including reconstructive surgery, which may include research. Surgery services are provided on both an inpatient and outpatient basis, and are offered at the following locations in Seattle:

Because there are many types of cancer and not all cancer cells are the same, targeted drugs may be recommended. Targeted therapies are designed to identify and inhibit cancer cells blocking their growth or spread. These drugs can be used alone to treat cancer or combined with other treatments. Your cancer care team will help you understand the best treatment options for your type of cancer.

learn more

Taking the proper steps to prepare for your surgery can significantly reduce your pre-operative anxiety and ensure you make a quick recovery. Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with the following recommendations. Our staff will go over the preparations and implications of any surgery before you arrive for your appointment. 

Your anesthesia interview:

Before your surgery, a nurse will call you at home to review your health history and any medications you are currently taking. This interview is very important and will help your anesthesiologist and other members of the medical team make decisions about your care.

The evening before surgery:

On the night before or the morning of your surgery, take a shower using antibacterial soap. Make sure you arrange for a ride to and from the hospital. Our newly designed operating room features a comfortable waiting room where friends and family members can wait for you while you undergo your surgery.

Bowel preparation:

Many abdominal surgeries require a bowel prep to be done the day prior to your surgery. Your physician will provide you with instructions if this is needed for your surgery.

Food and fluid restrictions:

You will be given instructions based upon your specific surgery as to when you should discontinue eating solid foods. Please avoid any fluids after midnight on the evening before your scheduled surgery.

Medication restrictions:

Your physician will review with you which medications you can and cannot take before surgery. The anesthesia nurse will also review this with you when she calls you on the phone. Any medications you are told to take before surgery should be swallowed with only one ounce of water, and no later than one hour before surgery.

Dangerous medications:

If you are taking any of the following medications, do not go into surgery without discussing them with your physician.

  • Coumadin
  • Aspirin (or aspirin containing drugs such as Excedrin)
  • Metformin
  • NSAIDs such as ibuprofen
  • Plavix
  • Tamoxifen
  • Herbal Supplements such as fish oil

What to bring to the hospital:

  • Insurance information and photo identification
  • Advance directive. This includes a copy of your living will or durable power of attorney. If you do not have one, please request an advance directive booklet.
  • An up to date list of any medications you are currently taking
  • Loose-fitting, comfortable clothing for your ride home

Please remember to leave valuables at home.

This type of therapy uses computers and special imaging techniques such as CT, MRI or PET scans to show the size, shape and location of a tumor and surrounding organs, allowing the radiation treatment plan to be specifically tailored to each patient's anatomy.

Nationally Ranked in Cancer Care

UW Medical Center’s cancer care is recognized as top in the nation and the only nationally ranked program in Washington (with Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center).