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5 Questions with Dr. Lia Halasz

5 Questions with Dr. Lia Halasz

Many of you have met our esteemed Dr. Halasz, who treats brain cancer and other central nervous system cancers at the SCCA Proton Therapy Center. Here are our 5 Questions with Dr. Halasz.

How did you first become interested in proton therapy?

My residency training was in the Harvard Radiation Oncology Program, where we treated patients with proton therapy at Massachusetts General Hospital when it was one of only two clinical proton centers in the United States. We primarily used proton therapy for patients with pediatric and central nervous system tumors, but also treated patients with prostate, liver, bone, pancreatic, head/neck, lung, lymph node and eye cancers. I took care of multiple patients from the Pacific Northwest who traveled all the way to Boston for proton therapy, and thus was excited when the SCCA Proton Therapy Center was built in my hometown of Seattle.

How important do you think proton therapy is to have in the arsenal of cancer-fighting treatments?

I specialize in caring for patients with brain and spinal cord tumors. I think protons are very important for many of my patients. In some cases, protons allow us to increase the dose of radiation while keeping side effects tolerable. In other cases, protons allow us to avoid radiation dose that puts patients at risk for long-term late effects of radiation therapy, including neurocognitive decline and secondary malignancies.

What is your proudest career moment?

One of my proudest career moments was treating the first patient at our proton center. I recently saw him, and it is great to see him doing well.

Can you suggest any fun activities that you and your family really enjoy?

My family and I—I have three kids aged 7,5, and 2—enjoy hiking. Some of our favorite area hikes are the Boulder River Trail and Tonga Ridge.

Can you share a favorite recipe you and your family enjoy?

Chicken Yakitori adapted from Harumi’s Japanese Home Cooking
(makes 12 skewers)

You’ll need:

1-2 lbs boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1″ square pieces
6 baby leeks, washed and dried, cut into 1 3/4″ pieces
12 skewers
sunflower or vegetable oil
1/2 cup teriyaki sauce

For the teriyaki sauce:

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup mirin
4 tbls sugar


1. Prepare the teriyaki sauce. Combine the mirin, soy sauce and sugar in a saucepan and gently cook over low heat for 20 minutes, no need to stir. Once finished, skim the surface of any scum and set aside.

2. Soak the skewers in water for a few minutes so they won’t burn when cooking. Cut the chicken into 1 inch square pieces, thread the chicken and the leeks onto the skewers, alternating as you go.

3. Warm the BBQ or put a little oil in a large skillet. When well heated, fry the skewers until nicely brown and cooked through.

4. Coat the chicken skewers in your very own teriyaki sauce, arrange on a large plate and serve!