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Seattle Cancer Care Alliance at UW Medicine’s Northwest Hospital


External-Beam Radiation Therapy

External-beam radiation therapy refers to treatments in which the radiation is generated from a source outside your body, usually a machine called a linear accelerator, or linac. The radiation beams are pointed precisely at your tumor.  This is the most common type of radiation therapy that people receive to treat cancer.

Three-Dimensional Conformal Radiation Therapy (3D-CRT)
In 3D-CRT, the radiation treatment plan is specifically tailored to the patient’s anatomy.  At the beginning of the planning process, the radiation therapists perform a computed tomography scan (CT scan) of the part of the body being treated. These images are loaded into a specialized computer and used to create the radiation treatment plan. The plan is designed to deliver a beam of radiation that conforms closely to the size, shape and contours of the tumor. This type of treatment is typically given five days a week (Monday through Friday) for two to eight weeks.

Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)
IMRT is one kind of 3D-CRT. The basic idea is the same: The treatment plan is designed so that the beam of radiation conforms closely to the patient’s tumor. With IMRT, the beam can be split into smaller beams of different strengths. This helps the radiation oncology team deliver a higher dose of radiation to the tumor and lower doses to nearby healthy tissue.

Stereotactic Radiosurgery
Stereotactic radiosurgery delivers a high dose of radiation to a precise area from many angles, typically in one treatment session. Despite the name, it’s not like conventional surgery—it doesn’t involve any cutting. It’s usually used to treat tumors inside the head. Patients wear a head frame during treatment to keep their head still and to help aim the radiation at the right spot.

Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT)
In some cases, patients can get radiation treatment during surgery. This is called IORT. Healthy tissue can be moved out of the way or shielded from the radiation, and the beams can be directed right at the tumor if it can’t all be removed, or at the area where the tumor was if there’s a high risk of the cancer recurring there. (IORT can also be done using brachytherapy, a type of internal radiation therapy.

Total Body Irradiation (TBI)
Radiation may be given to the whole body to prepare for a bone marrow transplant. Transplantation therapy is done at the central SCCA clinic.

Electron Therapy
This is a type of radiation that does not penetrate as deeply into the body as x-rays or photons, so it is best used to treat tumors on or near the surface of the body, such as skin cancers.

Proton Therapy
Protons scatter less as they pass through healthy tissues to reach the targeted tumor, so they cause less damage along the way. Proton therapy allows physicians to deliver more targeted, higher-dose radiation with reduced side effects. In 2011, SCCA broke ground on a new proton therapy center on the Northwest Hospital campus—the first such center in the Pacific Northwest—slated to open in 2013. Bringing proton therapy to the Northwest Hospital campus will greatly enhance cancer care for patients throughout the region.

The Distinguished Hospital for Clinical Excellence Award
Northwest Hospital Earns The Distinguished Hospital for Clinical Excellence Award
The Emergency Medicine Excellence Award
Northwest Hospital Earns The Emergency Medicine Excellence Award
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Recognize a Staff Member: DAISY Foundation Award - (for extraordinary nurses) | Cares Award - (for all Northwest Hospital staff)

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