When it comes to hospitals that treat lung cancer, "best" is a relative term. When choosing a hospital, you need to consider what treatment you need, the reputation of the hospital, and how accessible it is to you geographically. The best hospital will be the one that is able to most closely meet all of your needs.
Depending on what stage your cancer has reached when diagnosed, and whether it is small cell or non-small cell, the care providers you will need will vary. You may need a medical oncologist to arrange chemotherapy and coordinate your treatment, a radiation oncologist to arrange radiotherapy, or a thoracic surgeon if surgery is recommended. You may or may not need pulmonary specialists, home care providers or coordinators, or even hospice care providers or coordinators. Chances are, you will want a second opinion.
The best hospital for you is one that will allow you access to a multidisciplinary team composed of all the professionals you need so that they can work together to coordinate your care. A study in the British Journal of Cancer showed that a multidisciplinary team approach significantly improved survival rates (see References).
There are several organizations that publish rankings of hospitals. According to U.S. News & World Report, the top five cancer hospitals are: M.D. Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas, Houston; Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York; Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore; Mayo Clinic, Rochester; and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston. Multidisciplinary lung cancer care teams will be available at each of these locations, as well as at other nationally ranked cancer centers.
Cancer treatment can take weeks, even months, to complete. If the hospital that is best for you is not located close to you, or there are no quality cancer hospitals lose to you, consider working with your local oncology team to see if they will partner with a team at one of the higher-ranked hospitals. For example, you might be able to see an oncology team at M.D. Anderson in Houston, and have its treatment recommendations carried out by your local oncology team, returning to M.D. Anderson only for follow-up appointments. Receiving treatment for cancer is exhausting; you will want to minimize travel when you can.
- Multidisciplinary Cancer Team Members
- An Evaluation of the Impact of a Multidisciplinary Team, in a Single Centre, on Treatment and Survival in Patients with Inoperable Non-small-cell Lung Cancer. L. M. Forrest et al. British Journal of Cancer, October 2005, 93(9), 977-8.
- U.S. News & World Report: Best Cancer Hospitals