Experience Matters

The complexities of neuroendocrine tumors are best managed by caregivers with extensive experience. The disease demands it, and the team at Johns Hopkins has the experience needed. For example, neuroendocrine tumors often arise in the pancreas, and surgeons at Johns Hopkins have performed over 3,000 pancreatic resections, more than any other institution in the world. This experience matters, as a number of studies have shown that surgical volume (the number of pancreatic resections a center performs each year) is a strong predictor of patient outcome.

For example, in the April 11, 2002 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Birkmeyer and colleagues from the Department of Veterans Affairs, Vermont, reported that the mortality rate for pancreas surgery at low-volume centers was 16.3%, while the mortality rate for the same surgery at high-volume centers was only 3.8% 1.
From their analyses the authors concluded that patients "can significantly reduce their risk of operative death by selecting a high-volume hospital."
High-volume centers were defined in this study as centers that perform more than 16 whipples (pancreas resections) per year. Last year close to 200 whipples were performed at Johns Hopkins, and the mortality rate was less than 2%.