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SEATTLE – (March 9, 2016) – March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, and the Virginia Mason Digestive Disease Institute has teamed with the American Cancer Society to increase awareness about this and other important screening tests and the benefits of having them done at Virginia Mason.

American Cancer Society guidelines recommend that starting at age 50, men and women at average risk for developing colorectal cancer should be screened every 10 years – and more frequently if there is a family history of colon cancer, the third most prevalent form of cancer in the United States. Men and women face the same risk and often do not feel any symptoms.

The most common screening test is colonoscopy and there are benefits of having the procedure at Virginia Mason, including:

  • Experience – Gastroenterologists at Virginia Mason performed 9,800 colonoscopies last year. During a colonoscopy, they look for growths called polyps. Most people with polyps don’t know they have them because they feel no symptoms. But since polyps can lead to colon cancer, gastroenterologists search for polyps during colonoscopies and remove them if found. The national target rate for detecting polyps during colonoscopies is 20 percent. At Virginia Mason, the polyp detection rate is 54.4 percent.
  • Better outcomes – Colonoscopy completion refers to whether the gastroenterologist can see the entire large intestine during a colonoscopy. Things that prevent colonoscopy completion include poor bowel prep, obstruction of the intestine from colonic disease or lack of physician expertise. Virginia Mason gastroenterologists have a 99 percent colonoscopy completion rate, compared to the national target of 90 percent.
  • Advanced technology – In 2014, Virginia Mason became the first site in the United States to begin performing colonoscopies using a new computer-assisted sedation system called SEDASYS. It monitors medication (propofol) impact in real time – before, during and after the procedure – and allows 99 percent of healthy patients having a colonoscopy to recover from sedation within 10 minutes. SEDASYS is widely used for patients having colonoscopy procedures at most Virginia Mason locations.

Virginia Mason gastroenterologists perform colonoscopies in Bellevue, Issaquah, Lynnwood, and Federal Way and at Virginia Mason Hospital and Seattle Medical Center. For more information or to schedule a colonoscopy, call (206) 223-2319 or visit

About Virginia Mason Virginia Mason, founded in 1920, is a nonprofit regional health care system based in Seattle that serves the Pacific Northwest. In the Puget Sound region, the system includes 336-bed Virginia Mason Hospital; a primary and specialty care group practice of more than 480 physicians; regional medical centers in Seattle, Bainbridge Island, Bellevue, Federal Way, Kirkland, Issaquah and Lynnwood; 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, which is internationally recognized for autoimmune disease research; and Virginia Mason Institute, which trains health care professionals and others from around the world in the Virginia Mason Production System, an innovative management methodology for continually improving quality, safety and efficiency. Virginia Mason online:

Virginia Mason also includes Yakima-based Memorial Family of Services and Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital, a 226-bed facility serving the Yakima Valley in Central Washington since 1950. Memorial Family of Services comprises primary care practices and specialty care services, including high quality cardiac care, a continuum of cancer care, hospice care, and advanced services for children with special health care needs. Memorial online:

Media Contact:
Gale Robinette
Media Relations Manager
Virginia Mason Health System
(206) 341-1509


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