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 Head and Neck Oncology Program is one of the leading programs of its kind 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 head and neck cancer.

Patients initially talk with a cancer coordinator who helps manage appointments and answers questions about head and neck cancer treatment and the medical center in general. Find more information about head and neck cancer care at Virginia Mason.

Head and Neck Cancer Care at Virginia Mason

Virginia Mason's Head and Neck Oncology Program is one of the leading programs of its kind in Washington state. Patients receive care from an interdisciplinary group of specialists that includes surgeons, plastic and reconstructive surgeons, medical oncologists, radiologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, speech pathologists, nurses, nutritionists, dietitians, physical therapists, social workers and others, all working together to determine the best approach to treatment.

Some of our best practices for patients include:

  • Dedicated surgeons — Our fellowship-trained surgeons, both otolaryngologists and plastic surgeons, specialize in advanced microvascular reconstructive surgery for head and neck cancer. 
     
  • High volume cancer center — Virginia Mason performs with above-average rates of head and neck cancer surgery and is considered a high-volume hospital for this reason. Numerous studies have shown that surgeon experience and volume matter when it comes to successful outcomes. 
     
  • 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. 
     
  • Dedicated tumor board — We hold regular "tumor board" meetings for head and neck cancer, where individual cases are discussed and a treatment plan is recommended.
     
  • A leading head and neck cancer clinical trial site — Virginia Mason 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 (BRI), 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. 
     
  • Publications in leading medical journals and presentations — Our specialists publish articles in leading medical journals and are invited speakers at cancer conferences throughout the year.

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My Head and Neck Cancer Journey

Every newly diagnosed head and neck cancer patient receives a personal care journal created by the head and neck cancer team at Virginia Mason.

The journal is designed to be an interactive document. It contains information about the services you will receive as a patient at Virginia Mason - and general information about head and neck cancer - and serves as a diary to incorporate test results and your own notes. It can be brought with you to each of your appointments. View the journal.

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 has 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, 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, nearly 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 (CoC). 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-designated 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 — Virginia Mason provides patients with opportunities to participate in many different cancer clinical trials. Patients benefit from our partnership with Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason (BRI), 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 (bench to bedside) medicine.

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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 through 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.