"Our paper shows that experience counts," said corresponding author Dr. Paul Nguyen. He is a physician researcher in the department of radiation oncology at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
"For men with aggressive prostate cancer, survival is improved if they receive their radiation treatments at a high-volume facility as opposed to a lower-volume facility," Nguyen said in a hospital news release.
Nguyen's team examined data from more than 19,500 high-risk prostate cancer patients treated at nearly 1,100 medical facilities. The study focused on high-risk patients because they have much greater odds of death than medium- or low-risk patients, the researchers said.
After adjusting for factors such as cancer stage, age, race and insurance status, the researchers found that patients who received radiation therapy at higher-volume facilities had better survival rates than those treated at lower-volume facilities.
For example, seven-year-survival rates were 76 percent among patients treated at facilities in the top 20 percent of patient volume (more than 43 a year). This compared with 74 percent among patients treated at facilities in the bottom 80 percent of volume, according to the study. The results were published online March 15 in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology and Physics.
"We know that a surgeon who does a high volume of a specific procedure has better outcomes, and now we see that same trend when it comes to radiation therapy," Nguyen said.
At a higher-volume facility, the radiation oncologist will have more experience designing and delivering the appropriate treatment fields, he said. In addition, the support team of pathologists, radiologists, urologists, and medical oncologists will have greater expertise as well, Nguyen explained.
The American Cancer Society has more about prostate cancer.
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