Saturday, October 17, 2009

Public kept in dark about best cancer centers

Newsweek magazine makes a case for more transparency in cancer treatment won-loss scorecards among doctors and hospitals.

The article, "What You Don't Know Might Kill You," says there can be a wide disparity in success of treatments of cancer, for instance, depending on where the patient goes.

" ... at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, to pick one top site, the five-year survival rate for patients with stage II prostate cancer is 93 percent, compared with 88 percent nationwide."
A 5 percent difference doesn't sound like much, unless you are one of the 5 percent.

The Newsweek investigation found wide differences between the results of top cancer centers and community settings (local hospitals and private practice oncologists) where 90 percent of cancer patients are treated.

"Five years after surgery for prostate cancer, for instance, 72 percent of men treated at leading hospitals are alive, compared with 62 percent of those treated elsewhere. Scrutinizing data from specific cancer centers reveals even greater gaps. Five-year survival for stage IV prostate cancer is 71 percent at Fox Chase, for instance, but 38 percent nationally."
Often the issue isn't which hospital has the best machines, it's which hospitals have the best doctors. Those are usually found at the major cancer centers.

But good luck finding out the track records for particular cancers at various cancer treatment centers. They usually don't release this data. So if you want to find the best cancer center for treatment of prostate cancer, you can't find out.

In fact, according to Newsweek,
"And although the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) of the nation's 21 top cancer hospitals collects data on how well its members adhere to treatment guidelines, it will not release the information on specific centers."


nago said...

interesting blog. It would be great if you can provide more details about it. Thanks you

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tahera said...

This is absolutely true. Thank you for making the people aware about it. cancer centers in philadelphia