Newly Diagnosed with Breast Cancer?
We understand that a cancer diagnosis can be a life-altering event with many questions about treatment and quality of life. Virginia Mason has one of the leading programs for breast cancer in Washington state. Patients come from all over the Puget Sound area and beyond to receive care from our team of board-certified physicians, nurses and caregivers with special interests in the diagnosis, treatment and research of breast cancer.
Patients initially talk with our frontline cancer coordinator who helps manage appointments and answer questions about breast cancer treatment and accessing the medical center generally. For more information about cancer care at Virginia Mason, please click on a link below.
- Breast Cancer Care at Virginia Mason
- For the Newly Diagnosed: My Breast Cancer Journey
- What You Need to Know About Cancer Care at Virginia Mason
- Support and Survivorship
- Frequently Asked Questions About Breast Cancer
At Virginia Mason, patients with breast cancer receive care from an interdisciplinary group of specialists that includes breast cancer surgeons, plastic surgeons, medical oncologists, radiologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, nurses, genetic specialists, physical therapists, social workers and others, all working together to determine the best approach to treatment.
Some of our best practices for patients include:
- Recognized breast cancer center
The breast cancer program at Virginia Mason is recognized by the National Consortium of Breast Centers as being at the highest level of breast cancer centers, a comprehensive program offering all of the components of care related to breast cancer.
- Expert breast cancer surgeons
Our surgeons specialize in breast cancer surgery, routinely performing the following breast cancer operations: oncoplastic breast conserving surgery, sentinel node biopsy, skin-sparing mastectomy, nipple-sparing mastectomy, partial mastectomy/lumpectomy, simple (total) mastectomy, and modified radical mastectomy (total mastectomy with axillary lymph node dissection).
- Options regarding plastic and reconstructive surgery
For women considering breast reconstruction surgery, understanding options and knowing what to expect are the foundation for good results. We offer the most advanced techniques available today for reconstructing the breast and we will ensure you thoroughly understand all of your treatment options prior to surgery.
- High volumes and excellent outcomes for breast cancer surgery
Virginia Mason performs hundreds of breast cancer surgeries annually and is considered a high-volume hospital for this reason. Several studies have shown improved outcomes for patients undergoing surgery in a hospital that performs a high volume of cancer surgeries. We also track our outcomes (treatment results) on a regular basis to ensure that the treatment our patients receive is beneficial.
- Dedicated breast cancer pathologists
Our knowledge of the biology of breast cancer is constantly changing, and these specially trained physicians help the team determine the best course of treatment for each individual patient.
- Accredited imaging center
Our breast radiologists use state-of-the-art equipment including digital mammography, MRI and high-resolution ultrasound. Additionally, our imaging team is involved in research to improve the use of ultrasound in imaging breast cancer, both for diagnosis and treatment. The team's accomplishments include numerous scientific papers and two breast imaging textbooks.
- Specialist in cancer genetics
A family history of breast cancer plays a role in up to 10 percent of breast cancers. We offer hereditary cancer risk assessment for breast cancer patients with a personal or family history of cancer.
- Dedicated breast cancer conference
We hold weekly multidisciplinary meetings where each case is discussed by multiple specialists and recommendations are made for each patient.
- Multidisciplinary appointments
Newly diagnosed breast cancer patients are given appointments to meet with all of the specialists who will be involved in their care to make a plan for treatment, usually including a breast surgeon, a medical oncologist, a radiation oncologist, and, if needed, a plastic surgeon.
- New breast disease CME presentations
The Breast Cancer team offers a monthly short Continuing Medical Education (CME) course sent through e-mail to all Virginia Mason providers. Each month a different topic involving breast disease is highlighted.
- Breast cancer clinical trials
Our medical center provides patients with opportunities to participate in many breast cancer and quality-of-life clinical trials. We participate in national, regional and local groups offering clinical trials, including National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP), Southwestern Oncology Group (SWOG), Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG), Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) and Puget Sound Oncology Consortium (PSOC).
- Academic pursuits
Our breast cancer providers are speakers at specialty meetings, give presentations to referring providers and the community, present our studies of our work with breast cancer at meetings, and publish books and journal articles related to breast cancer care.
Every newly diagnosed breast cancer patient receives a personal care journal created by providers at The Floyd & Delores Jones Cancer Institute at Virginia Mason in Seattle. This detailed book, prepared by Virginia Mason specialists, explains the many aspects of breast cancer care and what you can expect following treatment.
The Floyd & Delores Jones Cancer Institute offers comprehensive care for many different types of cancer. Our nationally accredited cancer program means that we have several important benchmarks in place for patients including:
- Leadership in cancer care
Virginia Mason has one of the oldest cancer programs in Washington state. Our Cancer Registry, for example, which tracks cancer diagnoses and treatment at our medical center, was instituted in 1940. It wasn't until 1956 that the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer required a hospital-based cancer registry for all approved cancer programs in the United States, in an effort to improve quality of care. Currently, there are more than 40,000 confidential records in our Cancer Registry database and over 8,000 cases under active follow-up.
- Board certified physicians
Since Virginia Mason's founding in 1920, close to 100 percent of physicians on staff have been board certified in their fields.
- Nationally accredited cancer institute
Virginia Mason consistently receives national accreditation from the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer (CoC). Recently Virginia Mason earned commendations in four areas:
- Prevention and early detection
- Cancer related improvements
- Quality of data submission
- Outcomes analysis
Currently, there are about 1,400 CoC-approved cancer programs in the United States and Puerto Rico, representing close to 25 percent of all hospitals. These accredited programs treat 82 percent of newly diagnosed patients with cancer.