The growth in the number of patients with cancer and cancer survivors in the United States is greatly outpacing the number of clinicians available to care for them. Although age-adjusted cancer incidences and mortality rates are decreasing in the United States, population growth and aging have contributed to a substantial increase in patients requiring cancer care and survivorship care. According to the American Association for Cancer Research, approximately 1.76 million people were expected to receive a cancer diagnosis in the United States in 2019, and the number is estimated to increase to 2.3 million by 2035.1 The number of cancer survivors in the United States was estimated to be 15.5 million in 2016 and is predicted to be 20.3 million by 2026.2 However, the number of oncology clinicians is increasing at a much slower rate, and the first generation of oncologists and oncology nurses trained in the 1970s is beginning to retire.3 In some geographic areas, this disparity is exacerbated by the known maldistribution of oncologists, with greater shortages observed in rural areas.4
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Shulman LN, Sheldon LK, Benz EJ. The Future of Cancer Care in the United States—Overcoming Workforce Capacity Limitations. JAMA Oncol. Published online January 23, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2019.5358
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