Comprehensive cancer centers like City of Hope save lives; here’s why

June 19, 2014 | by

Advances in the fight against cancer have many measures. Grant dollars received. Papers published. New targets for medication discovered. New therapies unveiled. These all matter because they lead to the ultimate measure of success in treating cancer: people alive and families intact.

“One moment, they might be a healthy 25- or 35-year-old, and the next they are wondering how many years they have left,” says Yuman Fong, M.D., chair of the Department of Surgery at City of Hope. “The reason folks like me come to work every day, and we work so hard, is I have seen the progress that has been made in the last three decades at comprehensive cancer centers.”

In the world of academic medical institutions, patients can find complicated acronyms and designations as baffling as their diagnoses. The designations that matter are the ones that have the potential to save them, and one of those designations is NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center. Multiple studies, including a recent study from City of Hope, have shown that where people get cares matters – and one measure by which these centers have been found to be better is in survival benefit.

That is, in people alive and families intact.

These centers have been designated by the National Cancer Institute as being dedicated to research in the development of more effective approaches to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. In addition to vital research programs, most of these centers – including City of Hope – offer patients the latest forms of treatment for a wide range of cancers.

Fong often goes back to the example of liver cancer, which is one of his specialties. In the beginning of his career, a tumor in the liver was considered incurable. Now, up to 60 percent of the time, patients with advanced and complicated disease can be cured, he said.

The recent study found that going to a designated comprehensive cancer center showed survival benefit across numerous types of cancer, including breast, pancreas, lung, liver and stomach.

Even today, Fong said, not enough people recognize that their cancer is curable, which is why patients should get a second opinion when facing a cancer diagnosis. Cancer is a complex disease to diagnose and treat, and with 12 million people every year misdiagnosed, it’s worth finding an expert – or even better, a team of experts at a cancer center – to consider your case.

In the video above, Fong explained why coming to a center like City of Hope is a critical decision for patients seeking cancer care.

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Learn more about becoming a patient or getting a second opinion at City of Hope by visiting us online or by calling 800-826-HOPE (4673). Our staff will explain what previous medical records we'll need for your first appointment and help you determine, before you come in, whether or not your insurance will pay for the appointment.