Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Cancer forecast to be No. 1 U.S. killer in 16 years, but rural areas severely lacking in oncologists

Cancer is predicted to be the No. 1 killer in the U.S. in 16 years, but rural communities have extremely limited access to cancer care, with only one of every 33 oncologists practicing in rural areas, according to a study from the American Society of Clinical Oncology, published in the Journal of Oncology Practice. Wyoming has the lowest presence of oncologists, with only 1.6 for every 100,000 people. Massachusetts has the highest, at 8.2 per 100,000. (ASCO graphic) 

By 2025 demand for cancer care is expected to rise by 42 percent, but the number of oncologists is only expected to increase during that time by 28 percent, leaving the country short about 1,500 cancer doctors, the study found. Rural areas have the most need for care, with small and mid-sized practices (six or fewer physicians) mostly in the South and West, serving one-third of new patients, but two-thirds of small community practices may merge, sell or close during the next year. (Read more)

For the study, the Community Oncology Alliance "followed 1338 clinics and oncology practices for six years," Roxanne Nelson reports for Medscape. Researchers found that 43 of these practices had begun sending patients elsewhere for treatment, 288 clinics had closed and 407 practices were struggling financially. More than 70 percent of the counties analyzed had no medical oncologists at all. (Read more)

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