Fox Chase Cancer Center has started posting average survival rates for its cancer patients online.
Line graphs on the site compare five-year outcomes for patients with breast, colon, lung and prostate cancer at its facility to average nationwide outcomes at community hospitals.
CEO Dr. Michael Seiden said Fox Chase joins a handful of other cancer programs across the country in posting such data online. Seiden said Monday the goal is to give patients the information that matters most to them when they are deciding where to seek treatment.
“It’s great to have great research, it’s great to have Nobel Prize winners, it’s great to have research trials and new drugs under clinical investigation,” Seiden said. “But, really, what a person with cancer cares about is, ‘Am I going to be alive in five years?’”
The data does not compare Fox Chase with 41 other National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Centers around the country. Seiden said their numbers are similar, but they aren’t posted because the goal is to help people in the area choose where to get treatment within their community, not show the best cancer centers across the country.
“There is a little bit of a lack of awareness in the community about what an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center is, and how it differs from cancer programs within community hospitals,” Seiden said, “We were trying to think about ways to articulate this to the public.”
Allard Dembe, with the Center for Health Outcomes, Policy and Evaluation Studies at Ohio State University, said this is part of a growing trend of more transparency from health-care providers. He said more data is a good thing for patients, as long as they understand the limitations of the numbers.
“You have to look at underlying differences also that might exist,” Dembe said, “to really understand whether or not outcomes are better at one institution or another.”
The Fox Chase website contains a disclaimer that the numbers don’t take into account important factors such as age and gender when calculating outcomes.