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Specialty Care

Our radiation oncology team has extensive and unique expertise in certain speciality care areas, including the treatment of pediatric patients, Merkel cell carcinoma, benign tumors and palliative care. We also have the only clinical fast neutron therapy facility in the country.

Proton Beam Therapy

Proton beam therapy is FDA-approved technology that delivers external beam radiation with positively charged atomic particles to tumors. Due to its unique radiation dose deposition properties, proton beam therapy delivers radiation to tumors while reducing radiation exposure to surrounding normal tissues.

The physicians at SCCA Proton Therapy are all UW Medicine Department of Radiation Oncology faculty and have trained and worked at some of the best proton therapy centers nationwide.

The SCCA Proton Therapy center is equipped with the most advanced cutting-edge proton therapy technology available, a highly skilled medical professional team, and provides a supportive environment for exceptional and personalized patient care, multiple clinical trials and the latest research-based cancer therapies.

Fast Neutron Therapy

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.

As such, they have different radiobiological properties, meaning certain tumors that are resistant to standard radiation respond better to neutrons. Examples of these 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 is the only clinical neutron facility in the United States.

Pediatric Care

Our radiation oncologists specializing in pediatric cancer care complete training focused solely on delivering radiation therapy to children and young adults. We incorporate pediatric oncology protocols and participate in clinical trials specific to the pediatric population.

Our pediatric 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. Our lead pediatric radiation oncologist is also board-certified in pediatrics.

Radiation therapy can be useful in the treatment of nearly any type of cancer that may affect children anywhere in the body. Radiation therapy often is recommended to treat solid tumors in the organs and also may be used to treat cancers in the soft tissues (such as muscles), bones, brain, or blood (such as leukemia).

We have experience treating common and very rare forms of childhood cancers with radiation therapy.

Benign Tumors

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.

Merkel Cell Carcinoma

Merkel cell carcinoma 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.

Palliative Radiation Therapy

Palliative radiation therapy is intended to improve quality of life. Palliative treatments are not intended to cure.

Instead, palliative radiotherapy relieves symptoms and reduces the suffering for those patients for whom longterm cancer control is not possible. Palliative radiation therapy can also be used to control the symptoms associated with many localized tumors that cannot be treated by other methods (such as surgical removal). These symptoms can include pain, bleeding and decreased function.

In certain circumstances we use our leading technologies, including stereotactic body radiation therapy, Gamma Knife stereotactic radiosurgery and proton therapy, to achieve this goals while minimizing risks and side effects.

Radiation is usually combined with anti-inflammatory and pain medications to maximize the relief of cancer-related symptoms. Radiation therapy is particularly useful in alleviating pain associated with tumors that are arising from, or invading, into bone. 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.