Women with Ovarian, Cervical Cancers Should Seek Experienced Oncologists and Medical Centers

By Courtney McCrimmon

Two new studies presented this week at the Society of Gynecologic Oncology’s annual meeting in Los Angeles stress the importance of gynecologic oncology patients choosing experienced medical centers and oncologists for their treatment.

According to a study led by researchers from UPMC CancerCenter, patients with locally advanced cervical cancer have better treatment outcomes and are more likely to survive the disease if they receive care at a high-volume medical center (defined as centers that see 19 or more cases per  year) than at low-volume facilities. The study tallied patient volumes from medical centers tracked by the National Cancer Database. 

Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC
Patients treated at high-volume centers were 22 percent more likely to receive brachytherapy, the recommended radiation treatment approach for advanced cervical cancer, and 9 percent more likely to receive the recommended chemotherapy.  Overall,  a patient’s risk of dying from her disease dropped by 4 percent at a high-volume facility.

“Thanks to previous research, we’ve known that ovarian cancer patients show improved outcomes if they receive their care from centers that treat a high volume of cases each year,” said Jeff Lin, M.D., the study’s principal investigator and fellow in the division of gynecologic oncology at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC. “This study indicates the same holds true for patients with cervical cancer. Now we can act on that knowledge.”

Another study from the University of California-Irvine found that only a third of women with ovarian cancer received “the best possible care.” According to a New York Time’s article about the study, cancer specialists say the main reason for the poor care is that most women are treated by doctors and hospitals that see few cases of the disease and lack expertise in the complex treatments that can prolong life.

In Pittsburgh, Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC and the UPMCCancerCenter network make sure every patient diagnosed with cervical or ovarian cancer has access to a team of oncologists, pathologists, radiologists and other care providers to ensure state-of-the-art care.