The Care You Need to Survive Cancer

Recently we worked with the Group Health Research Institute (GHRI), using data from the National Cancer Institute, to see how the survival outcomes for Group Health Medical Centers' cancer patients compares with the national average. GHRI looked at nearly 15,000 patients between 2004 and 2012, ruling out those with multiple cancers or those under age 18.

The good news? Our patients' survival rate for five common cancers was comparable or exceeded national performance. The cancers reviewed in the analysis were lung, colon/rectum, ovarian, prostate, and female breast cancer, which accounted for nearly half of all cases during that period.

The national benchmark data we used was from the National Cancer Institute and compiled by SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results) using data from 20 population-based cancer registries across the U.S., covering 28 percent of the nation's population.

The Real Lesson: Focus on Early Detection and Screening

Survival rates for most cancers are rising, both at Group Health and across the country. But your chances of survival may depend less on where you receive care than they do on when your cancer is diagnosed. Survival drops significantly the later the stage of the cancer. The most dramatic example: stage III in breast cancer has a 70 percent survival rate while stage IV has only a 22 percent survival rate.

It is the complete package at Group Health that makes our care so special. The focus on prevention and screening; a patient-centered, multispecialty team approach aided by electronic medical records; five clinics and infusion centers, an affiliation with the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, our participation with clinical trials, and most of all — our heart.

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