Cancer Care “Crisis” Looming with Growing Cancer Burden
DALLAS – September 10, 2013 – Susan G. Komen®, the world’s leading breast cancer organization, today endorsed the recommendations of a new Institute of Medicine (IOM) study on improving cancer care in the U.S. – a study chaired by a Susan G. Komen Scholar with participation by Komen’s Chief Scientific Advisor.
“We concur that an already troublesome cancer burden will grow exponentially in the next 20 years, and that as a nation, we must take steps now to provide more coordinated, cost-effective and high-quality cancer care for all people,” said Chandini Portteus, Komen’s Chief Mission Officer. Komen was one of 13 organizations sponsoring the study, which can be accessed at these links: www.nas.edu and www.iom.edu.
Chaired by Komen Scholar Patricia Ganz, M.D., with Komen’s Chief Scientific Advisor George Sledge, M.D., on the committee, the IOM report describes a “crisis” in cancer care in the United States that will only deepen as the population ages and the cancer burden becomes more onerous.
The number of people 65 and older – ages where cancer is more prevalent – will double in size by 2030, the report said, creating a 45 percent increase in the number of people developing cancer. Costs for treating cancer care are escalating as well, from $72 billion in 2004 to $125 billion today and projected to be $173 billion by 2020. Cancer incidence will increase, the report said, against a backdrop of a shrinking oncology workforce.
The report recommended improvements to fix shortcomings that add cost and burden to cancer care. It specifically recommends initiatives to:
• Ensure that cancer patients are engaged and informed about all of their treatment options at diagnosis and throughout treatment;
• Develop a trained and coordinated workforce of cancer professionals;
• Focus on evidence-based care, using information technology to provide better information about the potential benefits of treatments;
• Focus on quality measurements, and
• Provide accessible and affordable care for all.
These recommendations have special significance in breast cancer, Portteus said, where 2.9 million women and men comprise the largest group of cancer survivors in the U.S.
“Issues of accessibility, quality treatments and survivorship are especially complex for breast cancer patients, who may be treated for many years,” Portteus said. “When the system works well, it works very well, but we must do better for patients and healthcare providers who too often are thrust into a fragmented and sometimes inaccessible healthcare system.”
To address issues faced by breast cancer patients across the United States, Komen has funded more than $1.5 billion during its history to programs focused on providing free or low-cost mammograms, diagnostic procedures, and treatment services, patient navigation, treatment assistance, and clinic hour expansion among many other programs addressing access to affordable care for medically underserved women.
Komen also partners with organizations such as the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Oncology Nurses Society, C-Change and others that perform research or provide outreach to cancer patients and survivors. Komen also advocates on the state and federal levels for programs that provide accessible, affordable, coordinated quality breast cancer care regardless of economic circumstances.