New study shows where patients are treated for cancer increases survival chances

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In 2016, you’d think where you get treated for cancer would not be as important as how.

But a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds your survival chances go up depending on where doctors treat you.

“In July of 2014, on my birthday, I actually was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer.”

When Donna Robinson got the worst birthday present ever, being told her cancer was inoperable and incurable; doctors also said chemotherapy was her only hope for whatever time she had left.

“First, the tumor shrunk 35% and then it shrunk 70%,” said Robinson.

After that, she thought her doctor could surgically cut out the rest. She was wrong.

“I was turned down three times by a surgeon saying, ‘No, it’s absolutely inoperable.’”

With her life on the line, Robinson wasn’t ready to give up. That persistence led her to the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center in Miami. It’s a hospital with a singular focus.

“We have experts that are studying one disease,” said Stephen Nimer, MD, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center director.

Which, according to a new study, gives patients a better chance to live. It looked at how patients fared when treated in specialty hospitals versus teaching and community hospitals. The result: five years later, patients treated by hospitals only dedicated to fighting cancer have a ten percent better survival rate than at community hospitals. Doctor Nimer says it’s all about better cutting-edge treatments.

“Here, what we’re focusing our efforts on is saving people’s lives. Having the kind of expertise at our center that provides hope that other centers cannot provide.”

Including the expertise to remove Donna Robinson’s tumor and save her life.

“What a feeling to actually be told, having been told that it was inoperable and incurable, I was now cancer free,” said Robinson.
Donna has been cancer free for one year. Experts urge cancer patients to get two opinions on both the diagnosis and the treatment. When there’s a difference of opinion, they say it’s worth getting a third.

RESEARCH SUMMARY:

BACKGROUND: The health care at U.S. News reports annually on the best hospitals. There are three categories on the website including “Best Hospitals”, “Best Children’s Hospitals”, and “Best Hospitals By Procedure.” Within the “Best Hospitals” and “Best Children’s Hospitals” categories, it is also broken down into best hospitals by specialty (cancer, cardiology, gynecology, etc.). According to health care at U.S. News, the three best places for treating cancer are University Of Texas Md Anderson Cancer Center, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
The top three hospitals overall are:
#1: Massachusetts General Hospital
#2: Mayo Clinic
#3: Johns Hopkins Hospital

The top three children’s hospitals are:
#1: Boston Children’s Hospital
#2: Children’s Hospital Of Philadelphia
#3: Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
For the complete list of the best hospitals, and the best hospitals based on specialty, go to www. Health.usnews.com/best-hospitals.

CANCER: Cancer starts when cells grow out of control and crowd out normal cells, causing complications with normal bodily functions. There are multiple types of cancer that can start in a variety of organs. About half of all men and one-third of all women in the U.S. will develop cancer. Many symptoms are not caused by the actual cancer, but no symptom should be overlooked. General symptoms could include weight loss, fever, fatigue, pain, and skin changes. Today, more people are surviving cancer than ever due to advancements in treatment and prevention. Researchers are now focusing more attention on the long-term effects on cancer survivors and their quality of life. The cancer survival rate rose from 49 percent during 1975-1977 to 69 percent in 2005-2011. (source: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancerbasics/what-is-cancer)

REDUCE RISK: Although it is not possible to truly prevent cancer, there are ways to prevent one’s risk. It is advisable to stay away from all tobacco products as it causes 30% of all cancer deaths. Drinking alcohol is also linked to certain types of cancers. It is recommended to limit alcoholic intake to two drinks per day for men and one drink for women. Combined use of alcohol and tobacco raises the risk of mouth, throat, voice box, and esophageal cancer more than either one alone. Also, limiting your direct exposure to sunlight can reduce your chance of getting skin cancer. Vaccines are recommended to prevent HPV infections. Finally, early detection is the best way to prevent further complications and death from cancer. Adults should schedule regular cancer screening tests, especially if they have any additional risk factors or genetic history for any type of cancer. (source: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancerbasics/questions-people-ask-about-cancer)

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