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IOM: Cancer Care System in Crisis

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, September 11, 2013

Care for oncology patients is not as patient-centered, accessible, coordinated, or as evidence-based as it could be, an Institute of Medicine report concludes.

The nation's cancer care delivery system is in disastrous shape because of poor quality measures, rising costs, an insufficiently trained workforce, treatments that don't work, poor clinician-patient communication, deficient palliative care support and the need for much better evidence of what types of patients will benefit.

Those are some of the conclusions from the Institute of Medicine's second major report on cancer care, "Delivering High-Quality Cancer Care, Charting a New Course for a System in Crisis."

"We found that cancer care is not as patient-centered, accessible, coordinated, or as evidence-based as it could be," said Patricia Ganz, MD, chair of the committee that wrote the report and an oncology specialist at UCLA School of Medicine and School of Public Health, during a teleconference Tuesday.

The system is "poorly prepared to meet the needs of" an estimated 1.6 million people diagnosed with cancer annually, in part because clinical trials of chemotherapy drugs almost always enroll people without other comorbid conditions. "The distribution (of who gets certain kinds of cancer) does not look like the population that actually has the disease."

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