Will the sheer volume of cancer cases soon outpace the number of practicing oncologists? This week, Doximity released a new study that examines the oncologists workforce. By examining a combination of factors including the aging physician workforce and an increased demand for oncology services, findings from the study raise concern around how cancer patients will be cared for in the future.

The Top 10 metro areas at highest risk of an oncologist shortage include:

  1. Miami, Fla.
  2. Virginia Beach, Va.
  3. Tampa, Fla.
  4. Washington D.C.
  5. Sarasota, Fla.
  6. Tucson, Ariz.
  7. Las Vegas, Nev.
  8. New Orleans, La.
  9. Raleigh, NC
  10. Providence, RI

The looming shortage of oncologists poses serious problems for the entire health care system, as demand for cancer treatment is expected to outpace the number of oncologists entering the workforce.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) estimates that 1,735,350 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. this year. In addition, breast cancer remains the second-leading cause of death in women, with an estimated 266,120 new cases of invasive breast cancer to be diagnosed this year.

“A shortage of oncologists in the future could, in some cases, lead to delays in between diagnosis and beginning treatment,” says Chandler Park, MD FACP, an expert oncologist with American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) University in Alexandria, Virginia.

The study goes on to examine retirement trends, percentage of state-trained specialists, and prevalence of breast cancer on a city-by-city basis. In half of the metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) surveyed, over 20% of practicing oncologists are over the age of 65, an important factor in the estimated shortage. According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), there is a projected 40 percent growth in overall demand for oncologist services accompanied with a shortage of 2,200 oncologists by 2025.

Additional findings include:

A two-fold variation in breast cancer ratesacross metros: Doximity looked at the breast cancer rates of women in the MSAs, who are between the ages of 40-75 and found a variance from 227 to 337.5 (per 100,000).

The metro areas with the highest number of women with breast cancer are: Virginia Beach, Va., Buffalo, N.Y., Rochester, N.Y., Hartford, Conn., and Boston, Mass.

Those with the lowest number of women with breast cancer are: Las Vegas, Nev., Tucson, Ariz., Riverside, Calif., San Antonio and Houston, Texas.

A looming wave of retiring oncologists: In many of the metro areas, a large number of oncologists are already approaching retirement age.

The metro areas with the highest number of oncologists ages 65 and older are: Miami, Fla., Los Angeles, Calif., Detroit, Mich., Tucson, Ariz., and New Orleans, La.

Those with the lowest number of retiring oncologists are: Nashville, Tenn., Charlotte, N.C., Cleveland, Ohio, Phoenix, Ariz., and Houston, Texas.

Our study was drawn from CMS data, board certification data, and self-regulated data on more than 20,000 full-time, board-certified oncology providers. Responses were mapped across MSAs, and the top 50 MSAs were selected by the population of women above age 40 according to Census data.

The age-adjusted breast cancer incidence data comes from the 2014 U.S. Cancer Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s WONDER Database.

Read the full report here.

This article originally published on FierceHealthcare

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