Top Doctor Top Doctor
The Top Doctor award is a peer-nominated award for providers who give exceptional care.

Delphine Chen, MD

Director of Molecular Imaging
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
Wil B. Nelp, MD Endowed Professorship in Nuclear Medicine; Professor, Department of Radiology
University of Washington School of Medicine
Physician
UW Medicine
Specialty:
Radiology
“I like taking the time to understand your story. Cancer treatment is complicated, and the better I know you, the better I can provide care.”
— Dr. Chen
How has cancer affected you personally?

My mother and grandfather both had cancer. While my mother survived, my grandfather passed away. I’ve seen firsthand how hard it is for patients to go through cancer treatments. It’s an emotionally and physically exhausting journey, both for the patients themselves and for those who love them. Going through those experiences serves as a constant reminder that people facing cancer need support across multiple areas of their lives as they go through imaging studies and treatments.

Imaging In medicine, a process that makes pictures of areas inside the body. Imaging uses methods such as X-rays (high-energy radiation), ultrasound (high-energy sound waves) and radio waves.
Chen
What’s it like to work with you?

I want to know the whole you, not just your medical condition. I like taking the time to understand your story. Cancer treatment is complicated, and the better I know you, the better I can provide care on all fronts. My area of medicine is highly specialized, so I strive to clearly explain how nuclear medicine therapies work and how these therapies fit within the context of other available options. I believe in empowering you to be an active participant in your care and providing all the information you need to thoroughly understand your treatment. Your questions make me a better physician.

Provider background

Specialty: Radiology

Cancer imaging and therapy

I am a board-certified physician in nuclear medicine, a type of imaging that uses small doses of radioactive materials to assess, diagnose and treat diseases. My expertise spans several nuclear medicine-based diagnostic tests and procedures such as positron emission tomography (PET). At SCCA, I also serve as the director of molecular imaging. This fast-growing field examines how the body is functioning at a molecular or cellular level. Molecular imaging, which has its roots in nuclear medicine, provides insight about how diseases like cancer behave, which in turn can affect treatment decisions.

In addition to providing care, I am also an active researcher. One area of interest is how PET scan tracers can be used to determine whether or not a cell is dying. The idea is that this information could help determine how a tumor is responding to therapy and therefore guide treatment. I led the first in-human trial of these tracers, which has served as the foundation for multiple clinical trials currently being conducted at three major U.S. medical centers. These clinical trials are focused on how we can best use this tracer to identify patients who may respond to anticancer drugs called PARP inhibitors. My colleagues and I plan to expand that research at SCCA.

Imaging In medicine, a process that makes pictures of areas inside the body. Imaging uses methods such as X-rays (high-energy radiation), ultrasound (high-energy sound waves) and radio waves. PET (positron emission tomography) scan A procedure in which a small amount of radioactive glucose is injected into a vein, and a scanner is used to make detailed pictures of areas inside the body in order to find cancer cells. A procedure in which a small amount of radioactive glucose (sugar) is injected into a vein, and a scanner is used to make detailed, computerized pictures of areas inside the body where the glucose is taken up. Because cancer cells often take up more glucose than normal cells, the pictures can be used to find cancer cells in the body.

Diseases treated

Education, experience and certifications
Medical Degree
Washington University School of Medicine
Residency
Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Nuclear Medicine
Fellowship
Washington University School of Medicine
Board Certification
Nuclear Medicine, 2006, American Board of Nuclear Medicine
Languages
English
Awards
Seattle Met's 2021 Top Doctors award

Dr. Chen has been recognized as a Top Doctor in this peer-nominated award.

Mark A. Tetalman, MD, Memorial Award

Dr. Chen received this award in 2009. Funded by the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging, the award honors the accomplishments of young researchers in the field of nuclear medicine.

Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation Clinical Investigator Award

Dr. Chen received this award in 2006 in support of her research into PET imaging and how it can be used to drive cancer treatment decisions.

Stories

The science and art of diagnosing and treating neuroendocrine tumors
The science and art of diagnosing and treating neuroendocrine tumors

Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) pose unique obstacles for oncologists and radiologists. Many people with this rare condition often do not experience symptoms. Others show signs similar to other diseases, making diagnosis difficult. And treatment requires carefully calibrated techniques to achieve the best possible outcomes.

Research

Clinical trials

We make promising new treatments available to you through studies called clinical trials led by SCCA doctors. Many of these trials at SCCA have led to FDA-approved treatments and have improved standards of care globally. Together, you and your doctor can decide if a study is right for you.

Publications

Many of our SCCA physicians conduct ongoing research to improve standards of patient care. Their work is evaluated by other physicians and selected for publication to the United States National Library of Medicine, the largest medical library in the world. See scientific papers this SCCA provider has written.

Press

SCCA providers are often asked to give their medical expertise for press and news publications. Read articles by or about this SCCA provider.

Your care team

At SCCA, you receive care from a team of providers with extensive experience in your disease. Your team includes doctors, a team coordinator, a registered nurse, an advanced practice provider and others, based on your needs. You also have access to experts like nutritionists, social workers, acupuncturists, psychiatrists and more who specialize in supporting people with cancer or blood disorders.
Registered nurse (RN)
Registered nurse (RN)
Your nurse manages your care alongside your physician and assists with care procedures and treatments.
Patient care coordinator
Patient care coordinator
Your patient care coordinator works closely with you and your physician and serves as your scheduler.

Insurance

SCCA accepts most national private health insurance plans as well as Medicare. We also accept Medicaid for people from Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. We are working to ensure that everyone, no matter what their financial situation, has access to the care they need.