High-volume care may mean longer survival

Volume 6, Issue 1, 2017

Summary

New research shows that patients with multiple myeloma benefit from treatment at more experienced medical centers.

Photograph of Ronald S. Go, M.D.

Ronald S. Go, M.D.

People diagnosed with multiple myeloma are more likely to live longer if they're treated at a medical center that treats many patients with this blood cancer, Mayo Clinic researchers say.

The researchers published the results of their study on facility treatment volume in the Journal of Clinical Oncology online Oct. 23, 2016.

Multiple myeloma is a rare form of blood cancer that attacks plasma cells, which are white blood cells that normally produce antibodies to fight infection.

The study on treatment volume measured the difference in life expectancy for patients treated by doctors with varying degrees of experience in multiple myeloma.

"Studies on cancer surgery have shown that the more experience the center or practitioner has, the better the outcome," said study author Ronald S. Go, M.D., a hematologist and health care delivery researcher at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. "It is very difficult to be proficient when doctors are seeing only one or two new cases of multiple myeloma a year. We wanted to see if volume matters when it comes to nonsurgical treatment of rare cancers such as multiple myeloma."

The new research shows that patients with multiple myeloma benefit from treatment at more experienced centers.

For example, patients treated at centers treating 10 new patients a year had a 20 percent higher risk of death than those treated at centers with 40 new patients a year. Most cancer treatment centers in the United States treat fewer than 10 new patients with multiple myeloma a year.