While cancer treatment is advancing rapidly, the supply of cancer doctors isn't. According a new report from the American Society for Clinical Oncology, the U.S. could face a shortage of as many as 4,080 oncologists by the year 2020.
With the aging of the U.S. population--and the number of Americans age 65 and older doubling from 2000 to 2030--the need for cancer treatment is likely to increase, as cancer is more common among older adults. Another concern is that a large number of oncologists are expected to retire soon. Yet another issue is the growing number of female oncologists, who for reasons not well understood tend to see fewer patients than their male counterparts.
So what can the industry do about this? One suggestion being mulled by cancer specialists is to train other doctors or nurse practitioners to handle some aspects of their practices, such as "survivorship care," or treatment of patients whose cancer has gone into remission or has been eliminated. This would ultimately involve patients seeing a team rather than a single doctor, researchers suggest.
To learn more about this trend:
- read this USA Today piece