Purpose: Growing evidence suggests an association between higher hospital and surgeon volumes, and better outcomes after high risk surgical procedures. We reviewed the literature on volume and outcomes, specifically in urological cancer therapy. Materials and Methods: We searched the literature from 1966 to 2004 using MEDLINE with the keywords outcomes, urology, neoplasms, volume, hospital volume, surgeon volume, prostatectomy, cystectomy, nephrectomy, prostate cancer, bladder cancer, kidney cancer and testis cancer. Relevant articles were reviewed and results were compared for each urological cancer. Results: Several studies demonstrated that higher hospital volume is associated with better outcomes for all urological cancer surgeries. We found that long-term morbidity associated with radical prostatectomy is significantly associated with individual surgeon volume. There were variations in outcome even among high volume surgeons, suggesting that surgical technique can independently impact outcome. Hospitals with a high volume of cystectomies and nephrectomies had decreased overall mortality rates compared with low volume hospitals. Patients undergoing retroperitoneal lymph node dissection for metastatic germ cell tumor had statistically significantly improved survival when treated at larger oncology centers. Conclusions: Evidence that high volume hospitals have better outcomes is increasing for urological cancer surgeries. Whether volume affects quality or better clinicians and services attract more patients can be debated. Centralizing health care will have major health policy implications, ie high volume hospitals may be overwhelmed and low volume hospitals may be at a disadvantage. An alternative would be to attempt to improve outcomes at low volume hospitals by identifying drivers of high quality care at high volume hospitals and transferring some of these characteristics.
- Outcome assessment (health care)
- Urogenital neoplasms
- Urogenital system