HealthDay News — Rising demands for cancer cancer, a provider workforce shortage, growing healthcare costs and increasingly complex disease are converging to create a “crisis in cancer care,” according to the Institute of Medicine.

“As a nation we need to chart a new course for cancer care. Changes are needed across the board, from how we communicate with patients, to how we translate research into practice, to how we coordinate care and measure its quality,” IOM committee chair Patricia A. Ganz, M.D., of the University of California in Los Angeles, said in a press release.

The number of Americans with cancer is expected to increase from 13 million to 18 million by 2030, with an estimated 2.3 million new cases per year.

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At the same time the number of physicians available to provide cancer care is expected to fall short of demand, and cancer care costs are rising faster than other areas of medicine — nearly doubling from $72 to $125 billion from 2004 to 2010. By 2020 the United States is expected to spend $173 billion on cancer care.

In the IOM report “Delivering High-Quality Cancer Care,” Ganz and colleagues note that cancer care is often not as patient-centered, accessible, coordinated or evidence-based as it could be. They’ve identified 10 strategies to improving it’s delivery:

  • Providing understandable information about cancer prognosis, treatment benefits and harms, palliative care, psychosocial support and costs to patients and their family
  • Providing end-of-life care that meets patient needs, values and preferences
  • Ensuring coordinated and comprehensive patient-centered care
  • Training all individuals caring for cancer patients in core competencies
  • Expanding the breadth of data collected on older adults and patients with multiple comorbid conditions
  • Creating a common set of data elements that capture patient-reported outcomes, relevant patient characteristics and health behaviors
  • Developing a healthcare information technology system to enable real-time analysis of data from cancer patients in a variety of care settings
  • Developing a national quality reporting program for cancer care as part of the information technology system
  • Implementing a national strategy to reduce disparities in cancer care access for underserved populations using community-level interventions
  • Improving cancer care affordability by leveraging existing efforts to reform payment and eliminate waste

These recommendations were based on six components — engaging patients, fielding a coordinated workforce, enhancing evidence-based care, increasing affordable care, translating evidence into practice, and bettering information technology.

“By working toward this shared goal, the cancer care community can improve the quality of life and outcomes for people facing a cancer diagnosis,” the committee wrote.


  1. National Research Council. Delivering High-Quality Cancer Care: Charting a New Course for a System in Crisis. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2013.