Cancer Outcomes Research

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More Than Just A Slogan:
“Your best chance for beating cancer” is supported by statistics.

When you hear that Moffitt Cancer Center is “your best chance for beating cancer,” you can be assured that the phrase is more than just a slogan. “Outcomes research” - research aimed at gaining a better understanding of which cancer treatments work best - has confirmed that, yes, Moffitt is your best chance for beating cancer.

“Outcomes research is not only aimed at finding out statistically which are the best, most effective treatments, but also at determining cancer survival rates,” says Dana Rollison, Ph.D., Vice President and Chief Health Information Officer at Moffitt. “Outcomes research is crucial to finding out how well we are serving our patients. To do that, we gather and analyze a huge amount of data on every patient over time, and we do it with the help of our patients.”

Outcomes research is closely tied to what has been called “evidence-based medicine,” a kind of medical practice by which treatments are considered and carried out based on the solid statistical and scientific evidence that they work. Evaluating patient outcomes across large patient populations provides additional evidence to refine the practice of and accelerate advances in evidence-based medicine.

More recently the word “outcomes” has also become a “click here” spot on Moffitt’s website, putting Moffitt’s patient treatment “outcomes” at one’s fingertips. Because outcomes encompass more than just numbers, Moffitt’s outcomes data on the website are linked to real patient stories of cancer survival.


The complicated process for gathering and analyzing outcomes data involves Moffitt patients, the Moffitt Cancer Registry and a dedicated staff of Moffitt physicians and researchers. For comparisons, the National Cancer Database is utilized, which is run by the American College of Surgeons. “The American College of Surgeons supplies us with tools with which we can analyze our outcomes and compare them to those of other hospitals and cancer centers,” says Dr. Rollison.

Karen Coyne, Director of Moffitt’s Cancer Registry, supervises a staff of 25 Moffitt employees, 20 of whom are Certified Tumor Registrars, who compile a complex data abstract on each Moffitt patient. She is charged with the responsibility of accurately and annually reporting Moffitt’s data on 10,500 new patients to the Florida Cancer Data System, as required by law, “All Florida hospitals must report cancer cases to the state’s cancer registry at the Florida Department of Health, and in turn the Florida state registry (Florida Cancer Data System) report all cancer cases to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to Ms. Coyne, the data they collect from patient charts and from Moffitt’s Patient Portal, through which new patients enter important information, have numerous uses internally at Moffitt.  One use of Moffitt Cancer Center data is through Moffitt’s Health and Research Informatics (HRI) Platform.

“Moffitt’s HRI is a state-of the-art, enterprise-wide data warehouse,” explains Dr. Rollison, who leads the HRI effort and is also the scientific advisor for Moffitt’s Cancer Registry. “The information we obtain from medical records, the Patient Portal and our cancer registry is fed into the HRI platform. The data include demographic information (such as age) on patients as well as clinical information (such as cancer diagnosis, stage, treatment and outcomes), lifestyle factors that may influence cancer risk, prognosis, and tumor biobanking information.”

This information is analyzed and made available to researchers at Moffitt who use it for many purposes from designing clinical trials to applying for research grants, explains Rollison. The data also “drive” better outcomes because the clinicians who receive the data can use them to determine the best treatments for a given patient with a certain type of cancer and at a particular disease stage.

“Our cancer registry information also comes back to us from the American College of Surgeons along with programming tools so that we can compute outcomes and compare our outcomes to those of other cancer treatment centers, such as we are now showing on the Moffitt website,” notes Ms. Coyne.

A look at the information on the website reveals the statistics that underlie what Moffitt has been saying – that Moffitt is your best chance for beating cancer.

That Moffitt is doing so well in its outcomes does not surprise Ms. Coyne, whose years of experience working with cancer registry data tell her that one reason Moffitt has better outcomes than the national average is because of Moffitt’s sole focus on cancer and that its team of physicians and researchers have extensive experience treating the disease.

Moffitt is one of only 41 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the country and the only one based in Florida. The NCI’s “Comprehensive” designation represents the strongest institutions in the nation dedicated to scientific innovation and excellence; to interdisciplinary research, training and education; and to coordinated recognition and pursuit of new research opportunities. What may be found most remarkable in the higher than average numbers for Moffitt patients in advanced stages of cancer, says Dr. Rollison, is that many patients don’t come to Moffitt until the later stages of their disease, and Moffitt’s outcomes for patients in the later stages of some cancers are superior to those of national average.

“We want to be transparent with our data,” Dr. Rollison says. “That’s why we put these statistics on our website. When patients are considering where to go for treatment, their chances for survival are likely paramount in their minds. We can show that your best chance of beating cancer can, in reality, be found at Moffitt. Furthermore, making these data accessible to researchers through the HRI platform allows us to evaluate the evidence so we can have even greater success rates.”

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