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What do real estate and mesothelioma treatment have in common?

What could real estate and the treatment of mesothelioma possibly have in common? Apparently, location matters. According to a study from the United Kingdom, outcomes varied significantly among six hospitals. Researchers suggest that the hospital's level of experience with the disease is a major contributing factor to that difference.

The study is among the largest of its kind. Researchers analyzed health data from nearly 9,000 mesothelioma patients, or approximately 80 percent of the region's mesothelioma cases between 2008 and 2012. Again, the data was collected from six different hospitals in England. The patients were predominantly older males, with a median age of 73.

The hospitals were inconsistent with the baseline data recorded for patients. For example, cancer stage was not recorded for many patients. Without that information, the care team would have no way to measure the progression of the disease -- and without knowing how advanced the cancer is, the care team cannot develop an appropriate treatment plan.

The data also showed that 87 percent of patients received a definitive diagnosis, but only 67 percent underwent anti-cancer treatment. The treatments themselves, however, were consistent with recent trends -- that is, more chemotherapy and less surgery.

The average overall survival rate was 9.5 months. A little more than 40 percent survived a year; 12 percent survived three years. The good news was that the rate improved from 2008 to 2012.

The troubling finding is that the individual treatment centers had very different median survival rates. Medians ranged from 209 days to 349 days -- a 40 percent difference.

That variation may be related to the level of expertise at the individual cancer centers, the study author suggested. Centers that see fewer cases have fewer opportunities to hone their skills, it seems, and that may point to a failure of the United Kingdom's health care system. The answer may be as simple as training doctors all over the country about the importance of measuring and recording the cancer stage of every mesothelioma patient.

Source: Surviving Mesothelioma, "UK Study Finds Location Influences Mesothelioma Survival," Alex Strauss, April 13, 2015

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