Studies show that in only 16 years, cancer will beat out heart disease as the number one cause of death among Americans.
A new study has been published by the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the statistics are extremely negative when it comes to cancer research, facilities, and the disease itself. It is estimated that by 2030, an increase in new cancer cases can reach up to 45% from the current 1.6 million to 2.3 million every year.
- Community oncology practices are at a disadvantage as they compete with hospitals that have the main access to radiation therapy and various treatment services.
- Due to the lack of availability to these resources, many physicians have to leave these oncological communities to join larger hospitals. Because of this, nearly two-thirds of surveyed practices will likely merge together or close entirely within the next year.
- Without these locations and the physicians needed, patients will have to spend more money and travel further distances for care. Not to mention they will have less individual attention from their physicians because of how many patients the under-staffed hospitals currently have.
Increase of Cancer Patients
- The staff shortages will only prove to have increasingly negative effects as cancer is affecting more and more patients every year.
- A positive statistic shows that two-thirds live at least five years after an original cancer diagnosis. This is an improvement from the half that lived that long in the 1970's. This news is promising, however, these patients need ongoing treatment as well, and the resources are not meeting the demand of these treatments.
- By 2030, when the 45% increase in cancer patients occurs, there will be a 42% increase in demand for oncologists while in fact there will only approximately be a 28% increase. That is a shortage of 1,400 oncologists and a huge burden on the community at hand.
- Some of these statistics are coming about because of the aging physician population. In 2008, for the first time, physicians older than 64 greatly outnumbered physicians that were younger than 40. Regionally, the Midwest mainly relies on these older physicians, and when retirement comes for them, patients will have to relocate to another overwhelmed physician.
- Medical costs are a concern for both patients and physicians. A huge problem with oncological wages right now is that payment is more about quantity rather than quality. It does not matter how well the doctor does or how affective treatments are. They are paid for how many tests and procedures they do, regardless if they are necessary or not. This is a direct concern with how some patients are often over-treated and matters are made worse.
- Cancer drugs used to cost around $1,000 a month, but now they are averaging around $10,000. In another 20 years, that price can jump to $100,000 and for most patients in the world, that amount is inconceivable.
Cancer research is always ongoing, but with these numbers, we can only hope that the vast technological advances that have come about will only help new discoveries battle this killer much more efficiently.