Increased demand for cancer care, a shrinking oncology workforce, and the rising costs and complexity of cancer and its treatments in the U.S. have created a “crisis” in how cancer care is delivered, according to a report published in September 2013 by the Institute of Medicine (IOM). These issues must be addressed for the system to handle an expected 45 percent increase in cancer patients by 2030—when the number of older adults in the U.S. will have doubled.
The report, Delivering High-Quality Cancer Care: Charting a New Course for a System in Crisis, documents problems such as inadequate dissemination of new information to oncologists and poor coordination of treatment plans among doctors. To overcome these issues and provide high-quality, evidence-based care, the report recommends that doctors receive more education on new therapies and guidelines and increased training on how to explain risks, benefits and objectives of a specific cancer treatment.
Cancer patients are not always receiving the information they need to fully understand their disease and their options, says Patricia Ganz, a medical oncologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who chaired the IOM committee that produced the report.
Shelley Fuld Nasso, the CEO of the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship in Washington, D.C., applauds the report. “There’s an appetite for changing how cancer care is delivered,” she says, “but we have to make sure there’s a continued effort to do something with these recommendations and not let them sit on the shelf.”
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