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UPMC wants to rule cancer treatment — here's how it ranks nationwide

Ben Schmitt
| Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017, 10:42 p.m.
A rendering of the planned UPMC Hillman Cancer Hospital in Shadyside
A rendering of the planned UPMC Hillman Cancer Hospital in Shadyside

UPMC's plan to build a cancer hospital in Shadyside — one of three specialty hospitals announced last week as part of a $2 billion expansion — pits the Pittsburgh-based giant against the nation's heavyweight cancer centers.

Some of the best-known names in cancer research and care include Rochester-based Mayo Clinic and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

UPMC officials appear ready to compete, propelled by the name recognition of its UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, described as being “synonymous with unmatched excellence in cancer care.”

“Using the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center as a springboard, already a global leader in cancer treatment and research, we will build another hospital within a hospital fully exclusive to our cancer patients,” said Leslie Davis, senior vice president and chief operating officer with UPMC.

Davis said UPMC's team of experts will focus on providing compassionate care centered on a patient's well being.

“This is where people from our region, from across the country and around the world will want to come, will need to come, for our most innovative therapies, our compassionate care and for the unparalleled hope that we offer our patients each and every day,” she said.

When it comes to evaluating cancer treatment capabilities, various ranking organizations use different methodologies. U.S. News & World Report, which produces popular rankings for colleges and hospitals, evaluates facilities based on factors such as length of survival and opinions from physicians who complete a survey.

UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside is ranked No. 35 in cancer treatment, according to the U.S. News & World Report website . The score is based on factors such as volume of high-risk patients, nurse staffing and patient survival. The ranking notes that UPMC patients have an “above average” survival rate 30 days after being admitted for treatment.

The report lists the top five cancer hospitals as University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Mayo Clinic, Dana Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center and Seattle Cancer Alliance.

There are 69 cancer facilities in the country designated by the National Cancer Institute as a comprehensive cancer care center. The UPMC-affiliated University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute is one of them. It is a highly coveted distinction that involves a rigorous selection process and a site visit by more than two dozen cancer experts.

Other comprehensive cancer centers in Pennsylvania include Abramson Cancer Center and Fox Chase Cancer Center, both in Philadelphia.

The new UPMC Hillman Cancer Hospital, located on the UPMC Shadyside campus, is expected to open in 2022.

Dr. Steve Shapiro, UPMC's chief medical and scientific officer, said immunotherapy in treating cancer is a field coming into its own.

“Many of the major trials for immunotherapy are taking place right here, right now,” he said. “By the time we open the doors of this hospital, we hope to have turned the table on cancer. We are defining the future of health care right here in Pittsburgh. It's tomorrow's medicine today.”

Ben Schmitt is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7991, bschmitt@tribweb.com or via Twitter at @Bencschmitt.

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