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Report Examines Shortages of Oncologists, Variation in Cancer Rates

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Doximity has released a new study detailing a concerning trend that could potentially impact cancer care in the United States. Doximity researchers examined retirement trends, percentage of state-trained specialists, and prevalence of breast cancer on a city-by-city basis. The report is the first of its kind to uncover the potential shortages of oncologists across the 50 largest U.S. metropolitan statistical areas.

According to the report, the top 10 metropolitan areas most likely to suffer a shortage of oncologists in the coming years are:

  1. Miami
  2. Virginia Beach
  3. Tampa
  4. Washington, DC
  5. North Port, Florida
  6. Tucson
  7. Las Vegas
  8. New Orleans
  9. Raleigh, North Carolina
  10. Providence, Rhode Island

The study found that in half of the areas surveyed, over 20% of practicing oncologists are over the age of 65 years. The aging workforce is an important factor in the estimated shortage of 2,200 oncologists by 2025, as projected by ASCO.

“Cancer is the second leading cause of death for American women, and a national shortage of oncologists could impact care, causing delays between diagnosis and treatment. Our study is the first of its kind to examine how this trend could play out in major cities across the country and the various demographic factors contributing to the problem,” said Amit Phull, MD, Vice President of Strategy and Insights at Doximity.

Additional Findings

Other findings of the Doximity study include:

  • An imminent wave of retiring oncologists. In many areas, a large portion of the oncologist population is already approaching the age of retirement. The metropolitan areas with the highest percentage of oncologists who are 65 years old and older are Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach; Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim; Detroit-Warren-Dearborn; Tucson; and New Orleans-Metairie. The metropolitan areas with the lowest percentage of oncologists who are 65 years old and older are Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin; Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, North Carolina/South Carolina; Cleveland-Elyria; Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale; and Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land.
  • Nearly a twofold variation in breast cancer rates across metros. Breast cancer rates in women aged 40 to 75 years varied from 227 to 337.5 per 100,000. The metropolitan areas with the highest number of women with breast cancer are Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News; Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls; Rochester; Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, Connecticut; and Boston-Cambridge-Newton. The metropolitan areas with the lowest number of women with breast cancer are Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise; Tucson; Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, California; San Antonio-New Braunfels, Texas; and Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land.

“Doximity’s unique data set has helped us garner a better understanding of a serious threat to our health-care system. By taking a closer look at risks to the workforce of cancer specialists at both a national and local level, we’re able to get a clearer view into how this trend will impact local communities across the country,” said Christopher Whaley, PhD, lead author of the report and Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health.

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.


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