The Cancer Treatment Centers of America have been accused of skewing data. The treatment centers, known for their innovative cancer treatment techniques, have reportedly manipulated data to improve their success rates.
Reuters submitted data, provided by CTCA, to nine specialists in cancer and statistical medical data for analysis. The reported results were not favorable. The experts discovered flaws that may have altered CTCA’s success rates dramatically.
The research revealed that the majority of patients treated by the CTCA fit into a very specific criteria, which is thought to explain the skewed data.
For example, CTCA are unlikely to accept elderly patients. Although the elderly are more likely to suffer from cancer, the center prefers to treat younger patients. It is reported that this may have contributed to higher success rates as the elderly are less likely to recover from the devastating disease.
An oncology information specialist and former employee of the CTCA has confirmed the report. Carolyn Holmes has stated that patients were routinely turned away from the center who did not meet specific criteria, including those who were elderly.
The research further revealed that patients who are on Medicare, Medicaid, or are uninsured, are more likely to be refused treatment at the center. The Cancer Treatment Centers of America are accused of skewing data, by refusing these patients. Statistically, uninsured patients and those on public health care are more likely to get and die from cancer.
Additionally, CTCA has reportedly admitted including data from patients who left the CTCA to continue treatment at other facilities. As there are no laws governing how the statistics are computed, this method is not illegal, but is generally frowned upon in the medical community.
Biostatistician Donald Berry states that by carefully selecting patients, the CTCA has created “huge bias” and has given “an enormous advantage to CTCA.”
Richard J. Stephenson founded the CTCA in 1988 and still acts as chairman. The CTCA website states that the treatment centers have “pioneered patient-centered care.” They highlight their use of innovative and state-of-the art treatment plans to achieve a remarkably high rate of success.
Although the centers offer more unconventional treatments, including yoga and acupuncture, they also offer traditional treatments with chemotherapy and radiation.
While the data may be skewed, patient satisfaction, for those accepted by the treatment center, remains positive. Patients and families have consistently praised the personal level of care at the CTCA.
Commercials for the treatment centers focus primarily on that patient satisfaction, but also highlight their success rate data. The researchers working with Reuters contend that the data is misleading.
Pamela Browner White, spokeswoman for the Cancer Treatment Centers of America denies the accusations and contends that the success rates are not misleading and that they have followed the “best practices in statistical collection.”
in 1996 the Cancer Treatment Centers of America was accused by the FTC of similar data manipulation techniques. At that time they entered into an agreement to discontinue the use misleading data.