Most Medicare Patients With Cancer Get Good Surgical Care: Study

Nine out of 10 hospitals stuck to best-practices guidelines, researchers say

MONDAY, June 20 (HealthDay News) -- Most U.S. cancer patients covered by Medicare receive appropriate surgical care at the nation's hospitals, a new study finds.

Researchers found that while most hospitals follow established practice surgical guidelines in treating these patients, some diverge from the guidelines. The study, published online June 20 in the journal Archives of Surgery, was partially funded by the American Surgical Association.

In the study, Dr. Caprice C. Greenberg, of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues analyzed national data on surgical treatment of Medicare patients aged 65 and older who were diagnosed with one of five types of cancer -- breast, colon, gastric, rectal or thyroid -- between January 2000 and December 2005. The study authors focused on 11 National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines for surgical care of cancer patients.

More than 90 percent of hospitals adhered to seven of the 11 guidelines. The guidelines most likely to be followed were those with a high NCCN rating.

Among those who were most likely to receive appropriate cancer care were patients who were white, younger, healthier, wealthier, had less-aggressive cancers and lived in the Midwest, the researchers found.

"It is critical that surgeons focus on generation of the data necessary to inform clinical decision making and promote high-quality surgical care," the study authors noted in a journal news release.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about cancer surgery.

Robert Preidt SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, June 20, 2011

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