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That means excluding, for example, those who have exhausted treatment options closer to home and arrive at a CTCA facility with advanced disease.
Accepting only selected patients and calculating survival outcomes from only some of them “is a huge bias and gives an enormous advantage to CTCA,” said biostatistician Donald Berry of MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Spokeswoman Pamela Browner White said CTCA’s survival data are in “no way misleading, nor do they deviate from best practices in statistical collection and analysis.” As for the Hilborns, she said, the company does not discuss individual cases.
Vicky Hilborn died of cancer in 2009 after attempting and failing to get oncology treatment from the Cancer Treatment Centers of America. REUTERS/Jason Cohn In 1988, Stephenson founded CTCA.
And 64 percent of its prostate cancer patients are alive at three years, versus 38 percent nationally.“I said you don’t understand; we’re going to lose her if you don’t treat her. A lot of doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers in the United States decline to treat people who can’t pay, or have inadequate insurance, among other reasons.She told me I’d just have to accept that.” Vicky Hilborn never got another appointment with CTCA. What sets CTCA apart is that rejecting certain patients and, even more, culling some of its patients from its survival data lets the company tout in ads and post on its website patient outcomes that look dramatically better than they would if the company treated all comers.Carolyn Holmes, a former CTCA oncology information specialist in Tulsa, Oklahoma, said she and others routinely tried to turn away people who “were the wrong demographic” because they were less likely to have an insurance policy that CTCA preferred.Holmes said she would try to “let those people down easy.” Equally significant, CTCA includes in its outcomes data only those patients “who received treatment at CTCA for the duration of their illness” - patients who have the ability to travel to CTCA locations from the get-go, without seeking local treatment first.
These are the rosy survival numbers that attract people like the Hilborns.