Swedish News Blog

Treating Arteriovenous Malformations to Remove the Risk of Rupture

David W. Newell, MD

An arteriovenous malformation (AVM) in the brain is a relatively rare condition – occurring in less that 1 percent of the population. It can, however, be neurologically morbid in young adults ages 15 to 20, who are at the greatest risk for hemorrhage and least likely to exhibit symptoms. About 2 to 4 percent of all AVMs each year hemorrhage.

An AVM’s tangled mass of blood vessels, which forms in utero, produces multiple direct connections between arteries and veins without the normal, intervening capillaries. Symptoms often are not present until later in life or until after the AVM ruptures.

A small number of congenital syndromes, such as Sturge-Weber, Rendu-Osler-Weber, ataxia telangiectasia, and Wyburn-Mason, are associated with AVMs. Once formed, extrinsic factors, such as arterial shunting, growth factors and intracranial hemorrhage, may alter the size and shape of an AVM.

The most common types of AVMs are:

Noninvasive Prostate Cancer Treatment Data is Maturing & Promising

Robert M. Meier, MD

Robert M. Meier, MD
Radiation Oncology Medical Director, Swedish Radiosurgery Center

Many of my patients are men seeking prostate cancer treatment they can undergo while continuing work and maintaining active lifestyles. Equally important is the cancer-free survival rate and long-term side effect profile. For over seven years we have been treating men with organ-confined prostate cancer using the CyberKnife® stereotactic radiosurgery system. This sophisticated radiation delivery system uses a robotic arm to deliver precise treatment doses to the prostate in only 5 sessions so the men can keep up their normal routine while combatting their disease.

The data supporting this treatment option continues to grow and a recent study following men for 6 years reports patients had excellent biochemical control rates (based on...

International visitors to the Radiosurgery Center

Erin Kieper

Erin Kieper
Program Development Manager, Swedish Radiosurgery Center

The Swedish Radiosurgery Center was a featured stop for the nursing students from Kobe City College of Nursing during their recent visit to Seattle. The students toured the center where they learned about our CyberKnife and Gamma Knife programs.

I was very impressed that the patient care is personalized to respect the needs of every individual. I have a lot of respect for staff who sincerely work with patients regardless of their background and circumstances. We learned the importance of having confidence in our field as medical professionals and the great privilege of serving ones in need.”

- Keiko Kikuchi, RN, PHN, Assistant Professor, Kobe City College of Nursing.

The group learned ...

What should I know about radiation if I have breast cancer?

Astrid D. Morris, MD

Astrid D. Morris, MD
Radiation Oncologist

If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, you may wonder if radiation is an option for you.

Radiation is an important pillar of treatment for breast cancer and has never been safer when designed by an experienced team with state of the art technology. Radiation will be part of a standard treatment plan after breast conserving surgery (also called lumpectomy or partial mastectomy). With the addition of radiation to the breast as an insurance policy, patients will do just as well as those undergoing mastectomy. Even after a mastectomy there are indications when radiation to the chest wall and nodes are recommended for best outcome. After a lumpectomy, radiation to the whole breast is the current gold standard.

How does radiation actually work?

Radiation works by aiming it at a target. Free radicals are produced which kill cancer cells, while normal cells have the capability to repair the damage. Cancer cells don’t.

Having the most advanced technology available to precisely plan and deliver radiation to the target will protect healthy tissue for optimal outcomes and the best possible cosmetic result.

How can I make sure I receive the best radiation?

The radiation oncologists treating you should be part of an interdisciplinary team. I, for example, work closely with the patient, the breast surgeons and the medical oncologists. I then design a personalized radiation plan, tailored to the unique characteristics of the tumor and each patient’s personal preferences. The more personalized the treatment the better.

To allow patients to feel their best during and after treatment, I often work with physical therapists, naturopaths, and other support staff (social worker, dietitian etc).

What type of radiation treatment do I need?

Radiation options after a breast conserving surgery can be very confusing. Here is a list that may help you understand the different options:

You've been diagnosed with prostate cancer - now what?

Robert M. Meier, MD

Robert M. Meier, MD
Radiation Oncology Medical Director, Swedish Radiosurgery Center

Almost daily there are new recommendations for how to treat prostate cancer and an equal number of controversies surrounding the recommendations. What is a man to do when faced with the words, “you have prostate cancer”?

The good news is that there are many proven options to consider; but how do you choose the best one for you? The decision can be daunting and the controversies swirling in the news only increase the confusion when wading through the information. You may be considering:

  • Active surveillance (watchful waiting) is an option for those who want to closely monitor their cancer over short intervals. Intervention is considered if the cancer grows quickly, PSA scores increase or other situations arise warranting a more aggressive treatment plan.

  • Surgical options are available and with the advances in robotic technologies, the procedure is less invasive than in the past, recovery times are reduced and fewer side effects are reported. 

  • Radiation options are also available and treat the cancer either with external radiation beams or implanted radioactive seeds.

    • CyberKnife Radiosurgery uses robotic technology to track the prostate in real time and delivers high doses of radiation with pinpoint accuracy. This is an outpatient procedure where the patient comes to the center for five, one hour sessions over the course of one week. Long term side effects are rare and cancer free survival rates are excellent. (You can learn more here.)

    • Seed Implantation is another method of delivering radiation to treat prostate cancer. With this option, the radiation is delivered internally via tiny radioactive seeds which are implanted into the prostate. This too is an outpatient procedure and long term results are excellent and side effects are few. 

As a radiation oncologist specializing in treating prostate cancer...

Brain Cancer Research in Seattle Leads to New Treatment Options for Patients

Swedish News

SEATTLE, Aug. 27, 2012 – Since its opening in 2008, the Ben & Catherine Ivy Center for Advanced Brain Tumor Treatment (the Ivy Center) at Swedish Medical Center's Neuroscience Institute has led the expansion drive of major research projects and expanded treatment options for patients living with brain cancer in the Pacific Northwest and throughout the world. The Ivy Center was founded in 2008 to create a world-class treatment and research facility focused on delivering excellent patient care and advancing progress toward more effective treatments for brain cancer.

Essential Tremor: What it is and how to treat it

Christopher Loiselle, MD

Christopher Loiselle, MD
Radiation Oncologist

Do you or someone you know shake when raising a glass of water to drink or have problems writing a check at the grocery store?

If so, essential tremor may be the cause. Essential Tremor (ET) is the most common movement disorder and those suffering from it experience uncontrolled movement , usually of the hands and arms. Over 10 million Americans are diagnosed, yet many people have never heard of it. Some assume shaking is just a sign of aging or they fear they may have Parkinson’s disease. ET differs from Parkinson's in many ways, one being ET is an "action" tremor (more pronounced when trying to complete a task) where a person with Parkinson's has tremors more often at rest and the shaking may actually lessen during activity.

Essential Tremor is caused by overactive cells in the area of the brain called the thalamus. The thalamus is about the size of a walnut and within the brain there are two of them. If there are overactive cells in the right thalamus, the person will have signs of tremor on the left side and vice versa. Some patients suffer from tremor on both sides.

It is important to know Essential Tremor is a treatable condition.

There are three common methods of treatment:

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