About Amy Umble:
Amy Umble is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star

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Mary Washington sees drop in the number of cancer patients treated

The cover of Mary Washington's cancer report.

The number of new cancer patients treated at Mary Washington Healthcare declined in 2010, the first drop in more than 30 years.

It’s not clear why the drop occurred, though one possibility was the arrival of a competitor, the Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center.

Mary Washington and Stafford hospitals treated 1,351 newly diagnosed cancer patients in 2010, down from 1,458 patients in 2009. The decline occurred in all cancer types, except prostate cancer.

The numbers are included in Mary Washington’s 2011 Annual Cancer Report, which covers 2010. The report was published in January.

Ingrid Hawley, cancer registrar for Mary Washington, said yesterday that it’s not clear why the hospital’s cancer numbers are down. Some patients may have gone to Spotsylvania Regional for treatment, she said.

Spotsylvania Regional opened in June 2010. The hospital offers diagnosis, surgery and chemotherapy for cancer patients, but it does not have radiation therapy. A hospital representative said this morning that its cancer statistics for 2010 were not available.

Other conclusions from Mary Washington’s report include:

  • Cancer is often discovered early. Thirty-one percent of Mary Washington’s cancer patients were diagnosed at Stage I, more than any other stage.
  • Cancer is a disease of the elderly. The most frequent age for men to be diagnosed was 60 to 69. For women, it was 50 to 59.
  • Cancer affects men and women in equal numbers.
  • The five most frequently diagnosed cancer sites were breast, lung, prostate, colon and bladder.

(Mary Washington’s annual cancer report can be seen here.)