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

Smith Apisarnthanarax, MD

Medical Director, Radiation Oncology
Fred Hutch
Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology
University of Washington School of Medicine
Physician
UW Medicine
Specialty:
Radiation Oncology
Location icon Located at
“At Fred Hutch, we really do our best to make sure that we’re always thinking outside the box, doing what’s right for each individual patient.”
— Dr. Apisarnthanarax
Why do you practice radiation oncology?

My first real exposure to cancer was through my grandmother, who lived in Thailand. She had metastatic thyroid cancer that left her paralyzed for most of the time that I knew her, and I think that experience planted the seed for what would become my calling. What I like about radiation oncology is that it’s a very visual field of medicine; we rely on anatomy and imaging, and that speaks to the artist in me. This specialty is also a nice combination of sophisticated technology, biology, direct patient care and teamwork. At Fred Hutch, we really do our best to make sure that we’re always thinking outside the box, doing what’s right for each individual patient.

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. Metastatic A metastatic cancer is a cancer that has spread to other areas of the body by way of the lymph system or bloodstream.
What personal experiences have informed your approach to care?

Several years ago, I was hospitalized for a life-threatening illness, and it gave me a greater appreciation for what my patients go through. For example, I had to wear compression boots that squeezed my calves every 30 minutes to prevent blood clots from forming. They were standard procedure for someone like me who was in the hospital for a long period of time and couldn’t move around, but they were incredibly uncomfortable and made it impossible to sleep. Sometimes it’s the little things like those cuffs that we as physicians may not think twice about, but they can have a big impact on a person’s well-being. Having had that experience in the hospital, I never dismiss any of my patients’ complaints or concerns as trivial. Being diagnosed with and treated for cancer is one of the most arduous experiences there is; your quality of life is always a priority for me.  

Provider background

Specialty: Radiation Oncology

Area of clinical practice

Genitourinary cancers, skin cancers

Gastrointestinal cancers, prostate cancer

I am a board-certified radiation oncologist with expertise in several radiation modalities including proton therapy, a type of external beam radiation that precisely targets tumors while minimizing exposure to healthy tissue. I treat patients with prostate cancer and gastrointestinal cancers, which can affect organs such as the esophagus, liver and pancreas. Prior to joining Fred Hutch, I was an assistant professor and associate residency program director at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.

My research is focused on optimizing proton radiation treatments for liver cancer. Historically, radiation wasn’t used to treat liver tumors, so there is much to learn about safely delivering potentially curative radiation doses and how to integrate radiation with other available treatments. I’m also interested in how functional imaging of the liver, which examines the organ’s physiological activities, can be used to improve radiation treatment planning and predict responses to cancer therapy. 

Gastrointestinal Refers to the stomach and intestines. Also called GI. 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. Oncologist A physician who has special training in diagnosing and treating cancer. Some oncologists specialize in a particular type of cancer treatment, such as treating cancer with radiation. A physician who has special training in diagnosing and treating cancer. Some oncologists specialize in a particular type of cancer treatment. For example, a radiation oncologist specializes in treating cancer with radiation.

Diseases treated

Education, experience and certifications
Undergraduate Degree
Brown University
Medical Degree
Brown University Warren Alpert Medical School
Residency
University of North Carolina, Radiation Oncology
Fellowship
MD Anderson Cancer Center, Radiation Oncology
Board Certification
Radiation Oncology, 2010, American Board of Radiology
Other
Internship, Northwestern University, Evanston Hospital
Languages
English
Thai
Awards
Seattle magazine's 2021 Top Doctors award

Dr. Apisarnthanarax has been recognized as a Top Doctor in this peer-nominated award multiple years in a row.

Research

Clinical trials

We make promising new treatments available to you through studies called clinical trials led by Fred Hutch doctors. Many of these trials at Fred Hutch 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.

Study ID:
NCT02881554
Sulfur Colloid SPECT/CT in Measuring Liver Function in Patients With Primary or Metastatic Liver Cancer Undergoing Radiation Therapy or Surgery
Complete title
Functional Liver Imaging with Sulfur Colloid SPECT/CT in Primary and Metastatic Liver Cancer Patients Receiving Liver-Directed Treatment: A Pilot Study

Publications

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

Press

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

Top Doctors 2021: Radiation Oncology

SCCA’s Simon S. Lo, MB, ChB, Jason K. Rockhill, MD, PhD, Nina A. Mayr, MD and Smith Apisarnthanarax, MD, were named to Seattle Magazine’s list of Top Doctors in Seattle for 2021, recognizing their excellence in radiation oncology.

Your care team

At Fred Hutch, you receive care from a team of providers with extensive experience in your disease. Your team includes doctors, a patient care 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 doctor and assists with care procedures and treatments.
Patient care coordinator
Patient care coordinator
Your patient care coordinator works closely with you and your doctor and serves as your scheduler.

Insurance

Fred Hutch 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.