Skip to content

    Breast Cancer Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    More Is Better: Breast Cancer Survival Higher in Hospitals Treating Many Patients

    By
    WebMD Health News

    May 23, 2000 (New Orleans) -- As with heart surgery patients, the care of breast cancer patients appears to be better when carried out in hospitals that treat more of these patients. A new nationwide study reported Sunday at a meeting of the nation's leading cancer physicians and researchers shows that survival from breast cancer is significantly reduced at hospitals that treat fewer than 25 women with breast cancer a year, compared with hospitals that treat more patients.

    A clear connection exists between hospitals that treat many patients and how well those patients do for many diseases, says Bruce Hillner, MD, who commented on the study for WebMD. "What we don't know is how many [patients] does a hospital have to treat to be good enough," he tells WebMD. Hillner is a professor of medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond.

    The difference in survival for breast cancer patients "is significant enough that patients sent for treatment at low-volume hospitals may want to seek another opinion at a larger hospital if feasible," study researcher Monica Morrow, MD, noted in a prepared statement released by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). This difference between hospitals that treat more than 25 women with breast cancer and those that treat fewer appears to be related to what Morrow calls "systems of care." These systems refer to patterns of care such as speed of referrals through a hospital system and coordination of care among various specialties. So the difference in survival outcomes is "not simply due to poor physician care," she tells WebMD. Morrow is professor of surgery at Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago.

    Morrow and colleagues examined the medical records of more than 175,000 women with breast cancer who were treated nationwide at nearly 1,300 hospitals. The researchers found that survival at the low-volume hospitals -- hospitals that treated fewer than 25 patients -- was 18% less than was seen at larger volume hospitals. "If we had a treatment that provided a 20% difference, we would want to use it," Morrow said in the ASCO statement.

    Today on WebMD

    Breast Cancer Overview
    From mammograms to living after treatment.
    Dealing with breast cancer
    Get answers to your questions.
     
    woman having mammogram
    The 3 latest tips to know.
    woman undergoing breast cancer test
    Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
     
    Resolved To Quit Smoking
    VIDEO
    Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
    Article
     
    Woman getting mammogram
    Article
    Screening Tests for Women
    Article
     
    serious woman
    Article
    Pink badge on woman chest to support breat cancer
    QUIZ
     
    what is your cancer risk
    Article
    breast cancer survivors
    Article