Delphine Chen, MD
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
University of Washington School of Medicine
Nuclear medicine and molecular imaging
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.”
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.
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.
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.