Group Predicts Cancer Doctor Shortage

b_250_0_16777215_00_images_obgrabber_2014-03_24b772c40a.jpgNastco/Thinkstock (NEW YORK) -- As treatments for various forms of cancer become more successful, more people are seeking help to battle the disease. Unfortunately, they may also start to have a more difficult time finding a physician who can administer a particular cancer treatment. A report by the American Society of Clinical Oncology says that although the number of oncologists is expected to grow 28 percent by 2025, the demand for cancer treatment will increase by 42 percent during that same span.

Overall, that means a shortage of close to 1,500 cancer specialists. The shortage in rural areas will be particularly acute where only 3 percent of oncologists reside compared to 20 percent of the U.S. population.

The reasons for increased demand include a growing number of aging baby boomers, better cancer treatments and the availability of health care through the Affordable Care Act.

Conversely, fewer doctors are going into oncology because of the pressing demands of the job that often include being on call 24/7.

There's also a high burn-out factor among current cancer specialists with many retiring early.

One way of possibly dealing with higher demand for treatment and fewer physicians are for oncologists to turn over more basic treatments of cancer to primary-care physicians and other health care professionals, leaving oncologists more time to deal with difficult cases.

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