Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Finding the best treatment facility

I went to Emory University Hospital for my surgery. I felt then and feel now that I received the best surgery from an excellent surgeon. However, I don't feel that Emory (and most other general hospitals) is the best choice for Hurthle cell cancer.

  • 80% of thyroid enlargements (goiters) are not cancer.
  • Assume that Emory does 365 thyroidectomies a year--one a day.
  • This means only about 70 of these are cancerous.Out of this, only 1-3% (about 1 or 2) would statistically be Hurthle cell cancer.

I don't believe you can be a Hurthle Cell expert facility, treating only one or two patients a year. In fact, from what I have read, only 361 cases of Hurthle cell cancer have been thoroughly researched.

All the evidence in writing that is used to gather the statistics and report the efforts and the mortality, adds up to only 361 studied cases.

The hospitals that are regarded as the best cancer treatment facilities are:

  1. MD Anderson Cancer Center
  2. Sloan Kettering
  3. Johns Hopkins
  4. The Mayo Clinic

My question is should I get the radioactive iodine treatment here and use the follow up treatment for the rest of my life at one of the other facilities. If this disease is fatal, does anyone want me to die and then say "he should have gone to one of the better cancer centers?"

I am leaning towards MD Anderson, in Houston, because they are ranked number one, treat 2000 thyroid cancer patients each year, and because the doctors work under a "team' approach. They also are involved in several clinical trials for thyroid cancer treatment. Finally, they have recently done research using radio waves with 100% success on cancer in rabbits. The rabbits had cancer and they deposited a marker that would attach only to the cancer cells. They then used a specific-frequency radio wave that heated up the marker which fried the cancer cells, while leaving healthy cells untouched. This is the kind of creativity and entrepreneurialism that will cure cancer. Count me aboard.

On their website, they say their goal is to eliminate cancer. It sounds plain and simple and I know it is a good "sales pitch" because they are a business, but it works for me.