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New Report States Cancer Care in the U.S. is in Crisis

Update Date: Sep 11, 2013 03:19 PM EDT
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With better technology and medications, people who develop cancer today are treated more effectively than before. However, even though screening tools and drugs are better, a new report written by experts stated that cancer-care in the United States is in crisis. According to this 315-page report, experts are citing several culprits, such as smaller workforces and poor communication between doctors and patients.

In the report, "Delivering High-Quality Cancer Care: Charting a New Course for a System in Crisis," the authors listed numerous reasons why they believe cancer care is in crisis. One of the bigger issues the authors have with cancer care is the lack of information doctors are providing their patients with. Since cancer care treatment options have gotten so complex and vast, not all doctors are capable of keeping up with newer information and might end up prescribing incorrect or ineffective treatment plans for their patients. Furthermore, the many options have left some patients coordinating their care on their own.

"Probably on average the quality of care is not bad, but we know there are people who are not getting the [highest] standard of care," commented Dr. Patricia Ganz, who chaired the panel that authored the report. Ganz is a professor at the Schools of Medicine and Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles. "Patients need to be asking, Is my doctor giving me appropriate treatment?"

In the report, the authors also bring up the fact that many clinicians do not follow the guidelines set by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). These guidelines exist to help doctors prescribed treatment based on the type, severity and stage of cancer. Even though these guidelines might not fit for every single case, they as a good base for doctors to refer to. However, the authors explained that some doctors willingly choose not to follow these guidelines because they think that their treatment plans are better.

On top of these issues, the authors also warn patients from assuming that their doctors will know everything about their specific type of cancer. Furthermore, patients cannot assume that their doctors will be able to communicate with them about their cancers in an effective way. In many cases, unfortunately, doctors do not ask patients for their input in terms of long-term health goals since some treatments might have more side effects than others. Also, doctors might not be telling their patients about all of the risks involved. The report found that 80 percent of cancer patients incorrectly believed that their treatment was going to cure them.

"I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of the IOM (Institute of Medicine) report," the ASCO President, Dr. Clifford Hudis commented according to FOX News. "Every person with cancer should receive state-of-the-art, high-quality and compassionate care."

The report was released by the Institute of Medicine, which is a part of the National Academy of Sciences.

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