Newly Diagnosed?

We understand that a cancer diagnosis can be a life-altering event with many questions about treatment and quality of life. At Virginia Mason, our Colorectal Cancer Program is one of the leading programs for colon and rectal cancer in Washington state. Patients come from all over the Puget Sound region 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 colorectal cancer.

Patients initially talk with our frontline cancer coordinator who helps manage appointments and answers questions about colorectal cancer treatment and accessing the medical center generally. For more information about cancer care at Virginia Mason, please click on a link below or call (206) 341-1652.

Colorectal Cancer Care at Virginia Mason

Virginia Mason's Colorectal Cancer Program is one of the leading programs for colon and rectal cancer in the Puget Sound region. Patients receive care from an interdisciplinary group of specialists that includes surgeons, gastroenterologists, endoscopists, medical oncologists, radiologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, nurses, nutritionists, dietitians, physical therapists, social workers, genetic specialists and others, all working together to determine the best approach to treatment.

Some of our best practices for patients include:

  • Dedicated colorectal cancer surgeons — Our surgeons specialize in surgery of the colon and rectum that provides patients with improved bowel function, fecal continence and cure rates, and helps them avoid colostomies whenever possible. 
      
  • Internationally recognized GI department — The Digestive Disease Institute at Virginia Mason is ranked among the top five percent in the nation and is number one in Washington for overall gastroenterology (GI) services. Patients with advanced colon cancer may be seen first by a gastroenterologist to have a stent placed, thus avoiding an emergency colostomy. Patients with rectal cancer may be seen first by a gastroenterologist to have precise tumor staging performed by endoscopic ultrasound prior to surgery. 
      
  • High-volume cancer surgeries — Virginia Mason performs above-average rates of colon and rectal cancer surgeries and is considered a high-volume hospital for this reason. Several studies have shown improved survival for patients undergoing surgery in hospitals that perform a high volume of cancer surgeries. 
      
  • Dedicated gastrointestinal tumor board — Physicians hold regular "tumor board" meetings in colorectal cancer where individual cases are discussed and a treatment plan is decided upon.
     
  • Leading colorectal cancer clinical trial site — Our medical center provides patients with opportunities to participate in many GI cancer clinical trials. Patients also benefit from our partnership with Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason, a world-class research institution that is looking at the causes and cures of autoimmune diseases, and is making those discoveries available to patients through translational ("bench to bedside") medicine. 
      
  • Tracking outcomes — At Virginia Mason we track our outcomes (treatment results) on a regular basis to ensure that the treatments our patients receive are beneficial.
     
  • Publications in leading medical journals and presentations — Our colorectal cancer specialists publish articles in leading medical journals and are invited speakers at cancer conferences throughout the year.

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What You Need to Know About Cancer Care at Virginia Mason

The Floyd & Delores Jones Cancer Institute at Virginia Mason 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 Virginia Mason's 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, which is the highest certification and recognition that physicians receive in their specialties. It is the primary reason why so many patients are referred to Virginia Mason for their care.
     
  • Nationally accredited cancer institute — Virginia Mason consistently receives national accreditation from the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer. Recently Virginia Mason earned commendations in four areas:

    • Prevention and early detection
    • Cancer related improvements
    • Quality of data submission
    • Outcomes analysis
       
    Being designated a CoC cancer program also means that patients are provided with comprehensive care close to home from a multidisciplinary team that offers a range of services, equipment, education and support. Patients also receive lifelong follow-up, ongoing monitoring and improvement of care, and information about ongoing clinical trials and new treatment options.

    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.

  • Clinical trials — Our medical center provides patients with opportunities to participate in many different cancer clinical trials. Patients also benefit from our partnership with Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason, a world-class research institution that is looking at the causes and cures of leading diseases, including cancer, and is making those discoveries available to patients through translational medicine ("from the bench to the bedside").

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Ongoing Wellness & Support

As a result of advances in cancer screening, early detection, and more innovative and successful cancer therapies, people with cancer are living longer and better lives.
 
Virginia Mason offers wellness and support resources, including education, guidance and direction to empower survivors in taking steps to maximize their health and quality of life. We are dedicated to helping survivors live beyond cancer. For more information about wellness and support, call (206) 341-1243. 

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