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Virginia Mason Experts Search Genetics, DNA for Cancer Cure

SEATTLE – (May 18, 2015) – Physicians and other members of the Virginia Mason Cancer Institute care team diagnose and treat cancer using genetic, genomic and hereditary information to benefit current patients, their families, as well as patients in the future.

Every individual diagnosed with cancer receives advanced medical treatment at the Floyd & Delores Jones Cancer Institute at Virginia Mason. Additionally, the need for genetic and hereditary testing is determined at diagnosis or at other points throughout treatment to help determine the most appropriate approach to eliminate the cancer.

If understanding the genomic makeup of the cancer will impact the patient, their siblings or children, then DNA sequencing of the cancer is performed. In specific situations, such tumor assessments can affect outcomes, including survival.

Cancer patients can allow sections of tumors from their bodies to be preserved through a process called “tissue banking” for use in current and future clinical trials at Virginia Mason. The tissue can be used to develop innovative diagnostic tests and treatment options.

“Our genetic and genomic approach to diagnosing and treating cancer is comprehensive and reflects best practices in medicine,” said John Corman, MD, medical director, Floyd & Delores Jones Cancer Institute at Virginia Mason.

Genetic testing, which captures profiles of more than 200 genes, scans for specific inherited changes in the person’s chromosomes, genes or proteins. Up to 10 percent of all cancers are related to inherited factors.

“Cancers are the result of genetic or DNA errors that often accumulate over time in single cells, eventually resulting in the change of a cell from a healthy state to a cancerous state,” Dr. Corman said.

Individuals who may benefit from Virginia Mason’s genetic and genomic approach to cancer therapy include those who:

  • Developed cancer at an earlier age than is expected for that cancer type (i.e., breast cancer before menopause);
  • Have been diagnosed with more than one primary cancer (i.e., breast cancer and ovarian cancer or cancer in both breasts);
  • Have been identified to have a cancer-related gene mutation;
  • Have the same or related cancer occurring in close blood relatives and/or belong to a family that has a greater number of cancers than is expected by chance.

The Floyd & Delores Jones Cancer Institute at Virginia Mason offers treatment by experts in an environment of hope and healing. The institute brings all aspects of care − from physicians, chemotherapy infusions, radiation therapy and supportive care to our patients in the most convenient way. Comprehensive treatment is provided for 16 types of cancer, including breast, colorectal, lung, pancreatic and prostate.

Virginia Mason has been accredited by the College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer since 1941, which is the longest-running accreditation by the commission among Seattle hospitals and the third-longest in the nation.

About Virginia Mason Virginia Mason, founded in 1920, is a nonprofit regional health care system in Seattle that serves the Pacific Northwest. Virginia Mason employs about 6,000 people and includes a 336-bed acute-care hospital; a primary and specialty care group practice of more than 460 physicians; regional medical centers throughout the Puget Sound area; and Bailey-Boushay House, the first skilled-nursing and outpatient chronic care management program in the U.S. designed and built specifically to meet the needs of people with HIV/AIDS. Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason is internationally recognized for its breakthrough autoimmune disease research. Virginia Mason was the first health system to apply lean manufacturing principles to health care delivery to eliminate waste, lower cost, and improve quality and patient safety. Virginia Mason website: www.VirginiaMason.org

To learn more about Virginia Mason, please visit Facebook.com/VMcares or follow @VirginiaMason on Twitter. To learn how Virginia Mason is transforming health care and to join the conversation, visit our blog at VirginiaMasonBlog.org.

Media Contact: Gale Robinette Virginia Mason Media Relations (206) 341-1509 gale.robinette@VirginiaMason.org