-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, Oct. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Over the next decade, the
growth in demand for radiation therapy in the United States will be
10 times greater than the increase in new radiation oncologists, a
difference that could affect cancer patients' access to treatment,
according to a new study.
Between 2010 and 2020, the number of patients requiring
radiation therapy will increase 22 percent but the number of
full-time radiation oncologists entering the workforce will
increase just 2 percent, said researchers at the University of
Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and colleagues.
They based their predictions on projections that this year 3,943
radiation oncologists will treat an estimated 470,000 patients in
the United States.
The large increase in demand for radiation therapy will be
partly due to growing numbers of older adults and minorities,
groups in which certain types of cancers are more prevalent, said
the researchers. They estimated that the need for radiation therapy
will increase 45 percent for minorities and 38 percent for people
aged 65 and older.
"Shortages mean double trouble," study author Dr. Benjamin Smith, an assistant professor in the radiation oncology department, said in an M.D. Anderson news release. "Since research has shown that a delay between diagnosis and the start of radiation therapy can reduce its effectiveness, oncologists and radiologists must collaborate even more so the quality of care doesn't break down at multiple points."
More studies are needed to learn how practices can be changed to
take care of more patients and better provide radiation therapy
without reducing quality of, and access to, care, Smith added.
The study was published in the Oct. 18 issue of the
Journal of Clinical Oncology.
The American Cancer Society has more about
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