Patients Treated at Elite Group of Academic Cancer Centers Have Higher Survival Rates

A recent study by researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), showed that patients treated at cancer centers that are part of an elite group of academic cancer research centers — members of the Alliance of Dedicated Cancer Centers — have a 10 percent lower chance of dying in the first year after diagnosis than those treated at community hospitals.

The pattern persisted through five years of follow-up monitoring. Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami is the only South Florida-based member of the Alliance, along with MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, City of Hope in Los Angeles, Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and others.

Sylvester Director Stephen D. Nimer, M.D., discussed the results of the study in his State of the Cancer Center address on February 9. “It makes a huge difference for cancer patients where they are treated, whether at an academic cancer center or at a community hospital,” said Nimer. “Sylvester patients have access to the latest discoveries coming out of our laboratories, they can participate in life-saving clinical trials, and they are being treated by a multidisciplinary team of cancer experts that are each focused on one disease; that just doesn’t exist at a community hospital.”

The team of MSKCC researchers captured mortality rates of cancer patients on Medicare from 2005 to 2009 nationally and categorized the data by type of treatment center. Similar analyses were conducted using Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Medicare data, which covered tens of thousands of cancer patients from across the country.

Expected and observed overall survival data was compared from the date of the first cancer treatment claim in 2006 to the end of the follow up in 2009, or the date of death from any cause. As part of the analyses, the researchers compared the survival between mutually exclusive categories of hospital type: 1.) Members of the Alliance of Dedicated Cancer Centers, 2.) the remaining NCI-designated cancer centers that had adequate numbers of patients, 3.) other academic teaching hospitals, 4.) the remaining community hospitals.

Sylvester and other members of the Alliance of Dedicated Cancer Centers consistently outperformed all other hospital types in the study with regard to overall survival, across various types of cancer, including lung/bronchus, prostate, breast and colorectal cancer. At the other end of the spectrum, community hospitals scored lowest across the board.

The study authors suggest that hospital-specific volume for particular types of cancer care is associated with variations in both short- and long-term outcomes, with hospitals performing the highest number of treatments having the lowest percentages of cancer mortality. The findings of the JAMA study illustrate that compared with community hospitals, survival appears to be superior for patients treated at members of the Alliance of Dedicated Cancer Centers, at NCI-designated cancer centers, and at academic teaching hospitals.

Sylvester is proud to be a member of the Alliance of Dedicated Cancer Centers. Our multidisciplinary teams of cancer experts have been discovering, developing and delivering the most effective and cutting-edge treatments available for decades.

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