MD Anderson Is Once Again Top-Rated US Cancer Center

Nick Mulcahy

July 30, 2019

University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is once again the number-one ranked cancer hospital in America in the annual ratings from US News & World Report.

The Houston specialty hospital has been ranked first in 15 of the 18 years that the cancer-specific ratings have been conducted.

This is the 30th edition of the US News & World Report hospital rankings. Early versions of the much-publicized rankings did not include the cancer-hospital category.

For 2019–2020, the number-two ranked cancer hospital is Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Rounding out the top five are Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota; Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland; and Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center, Boston, Massachusetts.

The rest of the top 10 are Cleveland Clinic; UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, Tampa, Florida; Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston (tied for 8th); and Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago, Illinois.

Rankings are determined by a mostly data-based analysis that combines performance measures in three primary categories: structure (such as hospital volume and nurse staffing); process (such as patient surveys) and expert opinion; and outcomes. Each of the three categories accounts for roughly one third of the total score.

Cancer hospitals ranked 11 through 20 are City of Hope, Duarte, California; Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California; UCSF Medical Center, San Francisco, California (tied for 12th); Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, Buffalo, New York; Seattle Cancer Care Alliance/University of Washington Medical Center; University of Maryland Medical Center, Baltimore; Siteman Cancer Center, Saint Louis, Missouri; Hospitals of the University of Pennsylvania-Penn Presbyterian, Philadelphia; NYU Langone Hospitals, New York City; and The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center–James, Columbus.

The remaining hospitals in the top 50 can be found here.

Despite the ongoing prominence of their reputations in the United States, both MD Anderson and Memorial Sloan Kettering have had major public relations disasters in the past year. 

In recent months, MD Anderson Cancer Center was investigated by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) and cited for deficiencies in nursing care, laboratory services, patients' rights, quality assurance, and institutional oversight. As a result, CMS last month removed MD Anderson's "deemed status," meaning the cancer center lost its status as having met all applicable Medicare conditions of participation. The CMS investigations were triggered by a patient death last December related to a blood transfusion contaminated with a rare bacterium, as reported by Medscape Medical News.

In New York City, Memorial Sloan Kettering's José Baselga, MD, PhD, resigned last September as the hospital's physician-in-chief and chief medical officer just days after revelations by the New York Times (NYT) and ProPublica about his failure to disclose financial ties to industry.

In January, Memorial Sloan Kettering announced that it would bar its top officers from serving on corporate boards of drug and healthcare companies to discourage conflicts of interest. As a result of the financial ties scandal that started with Baselga, Craig Thompson, MD, the hospital's chief executive, resigned from the board of Merck. The drug company paid him roughly $300,000 in 2017.

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