Hospital volume linked to cancer survival rate

In some cancer-treatment cases, it's where you are that really matters--new research shows that for some patients with advanced head and neck cancers, which hospital they were treated at significantly influenced their survival.

Patients who received therapy at hospitals treating a high volume of head and neck cancers were 15 percent less likely to die, compared with those treated at hospitals with a lower number of those cancers, according to a study published in the journal Cancer. Moreover, 12 percent of patients were less likely to die of cancer when they were treated at a National Cancer Institute, UPI notes.

"Medicare patients with advanced [head and neck squamous cell carcinoma] HNSCC treated at high-volume hospitals were not more likely to receive [National Comprehensive Cancer Network] NCCN guideline therapy, but had nearly statistically significant better survival, when compared with patients treated at low-volume hospitals. These results suggest that features of high-volume hospitals other than delivery of NCCN guideline therapy influence survival," the study states.

More than 52,00 Americans were newly diagnosed with head and neck cancer in 2012, and many are diagnosed with a locally advanced disease that has already spread to the lymph nodes, carrying a worse prognosis than early stage head and neck cancer, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center said Friday in an announcement.

"NCCN guidelines are well publicized in the medical community and it was exciting to learn that clinicians at both high- and low-volume hospitals are implementing these guidelines into the complex clinical management of patients with head and neck cancer," lead study author Eduardo Méndez, a professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at the University of Washington School of Medicine, said in the announcement.

To learn more:
- read the study
- read the article from UPI
- read the announcement from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

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