Cancer doctors known as oncologists could be in short supply in the years ahead.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is heading toward a major shortage of cancer doctors by 2020 as the population ages and the medical profession struggles to replace retiring oncologists, researchers said on Tuesday.TFM has more than a passing knowledge of oncologists. I've been a malignant melanoma survivor since 1993, and even used to get cancer vaccine from 1997 to 2001 at the John Wayne Cancer Institute in California.
The study predicted a shortfall of 2,550 to 4,080 oncologists by 2020. The overall U.S. population and, most significantly, the proportion of older people are growing, along with the number of people who have survived a bout with cancer, the researchers noted.
The number of oncologists is growing at a slower rate. There were 10,400 in 2005, and the study projected a total of about 12,500 in 2020.
"The graying of America will result in a substantial increase in demand for cancer-specific health care in the next 10 to 15 years. This is a looming crisis," said Dr. Dean Bajorin, an oncologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York involved in work force issues for the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
Because cancer incidence rises with age, particularly after 65, experts expect a surge in demand for cancer treatment in coming years.
The study forecast that patient demands for visits to cancer doctors will increase by 48 percent by 2020, while these doctors' capacity to see patients will rise only 14 percent.
The study was commissioned by ASCO, a professional organization for cancer doctors, and published in its Journal of Oncology Practice.
I wonder if the shortage has to do anything with the depressing nature of being an oncologist. Telling patients and their loved ones about them dying can't be easy on the mind. The US seems to be importing more of these doctors from overseas(South Asia in particular), and I'm guessing this will increase over the years ahead.
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