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More Compelling Evidence That Patient Outcomes Are Better At Specialized High Volume Cancer Hospitals – Lung Cancer, A Case In Point

Preliminary findings from a study presented at last week’s meeting International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer in Seoul, Korea demonstrates why it so important for cancer patients or their spouses to carefully choose the right physician and the right hospital for their treatment.

The study examined the post-operative mortality for Stage III A/B non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients undergoing complex “trimodality therapy.” This is a complex treatment where patients undergo concurrent chemotherapy and radiation followed by surgery (pneumonectomy). According to Aaron Allen, M.D., the study author, the mortality rate for patients at a nationally recognized U.S. cancer center was 4% at 30 days post surgery compared to a 30-day mortality rate of 26% from an earlier multi-hospital study

Allen, who is with the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, said “his suggests that the success of trimodality therapy was dependent upon two factors, the experience of the clinical center and the location of the lesion.”

Antoinette Wozniak, M.D., of the Hudson-Webber Cancer Research Center at Wayne State in Detroit, commented on Dr. Allen’s findings saying she believes that "many of these (advanced cancer) treatments work well in the hands of experienced operators," but may not translate well into the low-volume, community-based cancer care hospitals.

The study involved a retrospective analysis of the records and survival rates of 74 Stage III A/B NSCLC patients that underwent trimodality therapy between 1994 and 2005. The median age of patients was 58. Fifty-nine percent of cases were squamous cell carcinoma and 41% were adenocarcinoma. All surgeries were conducted at Brigham and Women's Hospital, which is affiliated with the Dana-Farber.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths. In the United States, 213,380 new cases and 160,390 deaths from the disease are expected this year.
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