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By Molly Gamble for Becker’s Hospital Review
The country’s demand for oncologists is slated to nearly double and lead to a shortage of nearly 1,500 cancer specialists by 2025, according to a report from the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
The number of new cancer cases in the United States is projected to increase by as much as 42 percent by 2025, but the number of oncologists will likely grow by only 28 percent. That results in a shortage of nearly 1,500 physicians. “In more concrete terms, given that an oncologist sees an average of 300 new patients each year, nearly 450,000 new patients are likely to face obstacles in getting life-saving care,” the ASCO wrote.
ASCO’s workforce analysis has previously found oncologists in short supply in many rural communities: Only 3 percent of oncologists practice in rural areas, where nearly one in five Americans reside. Further, more than 70 percent of U.S. counties analyzed by ASCO have no medical oncologists at all.
An additional complicating factor is the growing concern about whether smaller, independent oncology practices, particularly those in rural communities, will survive financial pressures and reimbursement cuts. Nearly two-thirds of small oncology practices — those with only one or two physicians — reported that they are likely to merge, sell or close in the next year, according to ASCO.