Workforce shortages in medical oncology: a looming threat to quality cancer care

Bogda Koczwara, Michael B Barton, Euan T Walpole, Peter Grimison, Prunella L Blinman, Sally Crossing and Kay Francis
Med J Aust 2012; 196 (1): . || doi: 10.5694/mja11.10356
Published online: 16 January 2012

Supply must meet demand to maintain our high standards of cancer care

Recent years have witnessed significant progress in cancer treatment, with improved outcomes,1 treatment options, emergence of survivorship care, and acceptance of multidisciplinary care as the optimal care delivery method.2 All Australian states have cancer plans, and considerable funding has been committed to cancer control by state and federal governments. While cancer outcomes in Australia are excellent by world standards, cancer care providers and consumers are concerned about the ability of the oncology workforce to meet the growing demand, and the effect that shortages may have on the quality of care. The number of new cases of cancer continues to increase by about 3% per year because of increased population, improved longevity and increased detection rates. Over a decade, the increase amounts to nearly 40%.1 The expansion of cancer services has barely kept pace with the increased number of cases, and the number of training positions, while highly in demand, is not sufficient to address the need.3

  • Bogda Koczwara1
  • Michael B Barton2
  • Euan T Walpole3
  • Peter Grimison4
  • Prunella L Blinman5
  • Sally Crossing6
  • Kay Francis7

  • 1 Flinders Medical Centre, Flinders University, Adelaide, SA
  • 2 Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW.
  • 3 Cancer Services, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane, QLD.
  • 4 Sydney Cancer Centre, Sydney, NSW.
  • 5 National Health and Medical Research Council Clinical Trials Centre, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW.
  • 6 Cancer Voices NSW, Sydney, NSW.
  • 7 Medical Oncology Group of Australia, Sydney, NSW.

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.


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