Cancer Specialists SAVE LIFE – ┬áThe Evidence Continues to Mount!

When it comes to incurable cancers like multiple myeloma, or any metastasized (Stage 4) cancers, a specialist in that cancer continues to show survival rates and life expectancy 2 to 5 times better than the national averages.  A recent blog post by Pat Killingsworth has the heading “It makes a difference how and where myeloma patients are treated“.  In the post Pat has found additional evidence that a cancer specialist’s survival rates outperform the national averages.  He writes:

Fellow Floridian and myeloma survivor, Gary Petersen, hosts a website,  On it, Gary stresses how important it is to be treated somewhere that specializes in multiple myeloma.  In a feature article that ran on MedPage Today after ASH last month, myeloma specialist, Dr. Noopur Raji, agrees:

“What it really tells me is that some of [survival may have] to do with access to drugs and access to therapies,” she said. Access to the latest treatments is more likely at academic centers, she noted.

The clinical implication for patients is that “if you have a center which focuses on this disease, go to that site,” she said.

Dr. Raji  is a myeloma specialist and was discussing a recent study by Mayo Clinic which had studied almost 28,000 patients newly diagnosed in 1998 through 2000 and observed the following findings:

For instance, more than 10% of patients treated at academic centers lived longer than 10 years, compared with about 5% treated at community cancer centers.

Similarly, more than 20% of those who had a stem cell transplant as part of initial therapy lived more than a decade, compared with about 5% of those who did not.

You are therefore 2 times more likely to survive 10 years if you are treated at an academic institution.   And if you look at the specialists listed on this site most are from academic institutions.  So it could just be another chicken or the egg, or both, question.  You can read Pat’s entire article if your CLICK HERE.  In the article, Dr. Raji also goes into more detail into the surprising advantage of early stem cell transplant, over later or no transplant.  


There is an excellent read by Sharon Begley of Newsweek that makes the same conclusion for all cancers.  The headline reads: “Why a Top Cancer Center Could Save Your Life.”  She comes up with some nice comparisons and hard data, but also finds that survival results are very hard to come by.  You almost have to be Sherlock Holmes to find published information.  She states:  “In trying to find the oncologist or cancer center with the best track record on, say, stage IV bladder cancer, even the savviest patient quickly hits a wall: with a few exceptions, cancer centers treat these “outcomes” data like state secrets.”  To read this excellent article CLICK HERE.

But the fact remains if you find a specialist for your incurable or stage 4 cancer, you can survive for as much as  2 to 5 times longer than if you were not treated by a specialist.  However, as Sharon states, many curable cancers or 80% of cases have not metastasized and can be treated successfully at a community oncologist. 

I have worked with many myeloma specialists who have gone out of their way to provide their survival information for, and these doctors are my heroes and are helping to prove that survival performance measurement can SAVE LIFE.  In addition, I had recently helped two friends who had asked me if there were specialist listings for colon cancer and breast cancer, both of which are very common cancers.  And there was nothing that I could find, however I could do a search with the heading “Stage 4 Colon Cancer survival rates” and find that some information by hospital is available.   You can find a few doctors and hospitals that have survival rates 2 to 5 times greater than the national averages for both stage 4 breast and colon cancer.  I have a blog post on how to find a myeloma specialist, and the same search methods can be used for any stage 4 cancer.  You can read this post if you CLICK HERE.   

Good luck and may God Bless your Cancer Journey.   For more information on multiple myeloma survival rates and treatments CLICK HERE and you can follow me on twitter at: