Radiation Oncology

Offering the Most Advanced Radiation Therapy Available

Treatment Centers

You may get radiation therapy at one or more of these locations. Your radiation oncology team will tell you where to go. Our centers feature state-of-the-art equipment so your doctor and care team can deliver the right treatment for you.

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center patients get radiation therapy from leading radiation oncologists who specialize in specific cancers. Your Fred Hutch radiation oncologist knows the most advanced options for treating your disease and will design a personalized treatment plan to target your tumor.

We offer a full range of radiation therapy, including access to the latest and most innovative options through our clinical trials.

Diseases Treated

Radiation therapy is used to treat the primary (main) site of certain diseases, such as breast, colon, lung and prostate cancers. It is also used to treat metastases (areas where cancer has spread), such as the bones, brain and other organs. It can be used to treat sarcoma, gynecologic, head and neck, lymphoma, and brain and spine cancers.

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Leaders in Radiation Oncology


UW Medical Center is the only hospital in the Pacific Northwest to offer intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT), a radiation treatment that is done during surgery. Fred Hutch doctors at UW Medical Center have years of experience treating patients with this therapy. 

Learn more about IORT

Neutron Therapy

UW Medical Center is the only place in the U.S. that offers neutron therapy, a very powerful type of radiation therapy that works well on salivary gland tumors and some other radiorefractory cancers. UW Medical Center is also the only place in the world that offers a highly conformal neutron therapy called intensity modulated neutron therapy (IMNT). IMNT carefully shapes the radiation beams so they closely fit the area of the cancer. This means that less radiation goes to healthy tissues and organs.

Proton Therapy

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center – Proton Therapy is led by world-class experts in proton therapy. It is one of only two centers like it in a seven-state region.

Learn more about Proton Therapy

Radiation Treatment Types

We offer a full range of radiation therapy, including access to the latest and most innovative options through our clinical trials.

More About Radiation Types

Radiation Care Team

At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, we surround you with experts who focus completely on cancer care. Radiation oncology teams usually include the members described below.

More About the Radiation Care Team

Frequently Asked Questions

Radiation oncology is an area of medicine that uses high-energy beams to treat some cancers. The treatment itself is called radiation therapy, or radiotherapy. A radiation oncologist is a medical doctor who specializes in radiation therapy.

Radiation therapy (also called radiotherapy) works by damaging the DNA inside cancer cells using high-energy beams. After enough damage occurs, the cells cannot multiply, and they die. 

Yes. There are two main types of radiation therapy: external-beam radiation therapy (EBRT) and internal radiation therapy. EBRT means that radiation comes from a source outside the body, like a high-energy beam. Internal radiation therapy means that a radioactive substance is put inside the body so it can send out radiation. The radiation is delivered either as photons (such as X-rays or gamma rays) or subatomic particles (tiny particles that are smaller than atoms, such as electrons or protons).  

People get radiation therapy to cure, stop or slow their disease. It is also used to reduce the risk that cancer will come back or to help with symptoms caused by tumors. The goal of radiation therapy is to destroy as many cancer cells as possible while causing the least amount of damage to healthy cells. 

Radiation therapy is used in these ways:

  • Primary treatment: As a main treatment to cure, stop or slow the disease. 
  • Adjuvant therapy: After one or more other treatments, like surgery or chemotherapy, to reduce the risk that the cancer will come back.
  • Palliative therapy: To help with symptoms, like pain, by shrinking the tumor.

The exact role of radiation therapy in your care depends on many factors, including the type, size, location and stage of your cancer. Your radiation oncologist will tell you about the type of treatment they recommend for you and explain why they think it is the best choice.

Managing Side Effects

Radiation therapy can cause side effects. These depend on the type of radiation therapy you have and the part of your body that is treated. Your team will give you details about which side effects may happen and for how long.

You are always at the center of everything we do. Our doctors, nurses and advanced practice providers will work closely with you to manage any side effects and help you take the best possible care of yourself during treatment. 

How to Get Help With Side Effects

Before you begin treatment, we talk with you about what to expect, based on your treatment plan, and what can help if you have side effects. We have many tools to help you feel better, such as:

  • Supportive medications to prevent and treat symptoms, like nausea or constipation
  • Antibiotics, steroids and antiviral drugs to prevent or treat infections
  • Transfusions, vaccines and medicines that boost the immune system to treat low levels of blood cells (low blood counts)
  • Nutrition care and medicines to help with digestive problems
  • Physical therapy to help you recover from surgery
  • Conventional and integrative therapies for pain

At your appointments, we want you to tell us right away about any side effects you are having. If you have questions or concerns between appointments, you can call us. We will make sure you know how to reach care providers at Fred Hutch after hours, if that is when you need us. 

Learn about Coping With Side Effects

Clinical Trials

Many of our patients join clinical trials — led by world-class doctors from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center — to get promising treatments that are not available everywhere.

We are testing hundreds of new therapies for dozens of types of cancer and finding new ways to use current treatments.

Through this work, we are looking for answers to two main questions: How can we do even better at controlling or curing cancer? How can we make treatments easier on patients?

We have clinical trials for all stages of cancer, from early to advanced. When your radiation oncologist designs your treatment plan, they will give you the choice to join clinical trials that match your situation. If you decide to join one, you will see the same doctors and nurses as you would for standard therapy.

Your care team will talk with you about if you might want to join a study and why. This can help you make the decision that is best for you.

Supportive Care Services

Along with treating your cancer, Fred Hutch provides a range of services to support you and your caregiver. This is part of how we take care of you — not just your disease.

Along with your radiation oncologist, radiation therapist, and radiation oncology nurse, you’ll have many others to provide support. From registered dietitians to chaplains to social workers, our experts specialize in caring for people with cancer. We understand this may be one of the most intense and challenging experiences you and your family ever go through. We are here to provide the care you need.

Learn about Supportive Care Services

nutrition services


Our dieticians have specialized training and knowledge about nutrition for cancer prevention, treatment and survivorship. They work together with each patient's care team.

More About Nutrition
palliative care services

Palliative Care

Supportive and palliative care is here to prevent and relieve suffering and to support the best possible quality of life for patients and their families, regardless of the stage of their disease.

More About Palliative Care