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ASCO predicts doctor shortages as cancer becomes leading killer in America

A recent report from the American Society of Clinical Oncologists (ASCO) says that, by 2030, the number of new cancer cases in the United States will increase by 45 percent and cancer will become the nation’s leading cause of death. It has been known for some time that cancer soon will surpass heart disease as the leading killer in America. There are 13.7 million cancer survivors in the United States and that number of survivors also will continue to increase. The aging population is a major factor in the increase of cancer cases.

ASCO, a group of 35,000 oncology professionals, also predicts that cancer care costs will continue to escalate with annual costs going from $104 billion in 2006 to more than $173 billion in 2020. ASCO also predicts a shortage of nearly 1,500 oncologists in the United States. By 2025, demand for oncology services will grow by 42 percent or more, while the supply of oncologists will grow by only 28 percent. According to the ASCO report, doctor shortages may be further exacerbated by high levels of burnout, potentially leading to reduced clinical load or early retirement.

Among its recommendations, ASCO suggests: reducing instability in federal payment systems; pursuing a national oncology quality measurement system that is efficient, meaningful and relevant to oncology professionals and their patients; identify creative strategies for leveraging the oncology workforce such as collaboration with primary care professionals on overall coordination of patients’ cancer care and allowing oncologists to focus on patients receiving active treatment of the disease; leverage technology and innovative practice models (such as telemedicine and visiting consultants) to improve patient access and better connect other providers to cancer specialists; monitoring and addressing physician burnout; aligning payment systems with the goal of delivering high-value, patient-centered care; and testing a range of promising cancer care delivery models that address the unique challenges of treating the disease.

Your Cancer Examiner urges you to read and evaluate this interesting ASCO report for yourself.

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