Depending on what side of the equation you’re on, the future of community oncology can vary. To appreciate why this is, we need only look at some of the statistical data relative to the disease. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), more than 100 cancers can attack the human body at any given time, each named after the organ or tissue where the disease initially got its start in the body. And this explains why we have lung cancer, breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, and so on.
Multiple studies show nearly 2 million Americans received a cancer diagnosis in 2022. Of those diagnosed, around 610,000 lost their lives to the disease, according to the same studies. If you’re an oncologist, a purveyor of diagnostic testing equipment, or in any other way involved in oncology, this data spells job security and an opportunity to generate tremendous wealth. If you are someone living with cancer, someone who has a family member with cancer, or someone just worried about the disease invading your life or the lives of your friends and family, you should keep reading to find out more about the future of community oncology.
Oncology Trends: What Science Has Revealed About Aging and Cancer
Continuing with current oncology trends in the U.S., a 2021 study from the National Cancer Institute revealed that the older someone lives, the more likely they are to develop one of the more than 100 known types of cancer. And this further illustrates why the future of oncology will be undeniably bright for oncologists, radiologists, and others responsible for caring for patients with cancer. According to the study from NCI, roughly 350 per 100,000 people aged 45 to 49 in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, and 1,0 00 per 100,000 people aged 60 and older will encounter the same fate.
Community Oncology and What It Means for Cancer Care
For those unfamiliar with a community oncology practice, it is a private, physician-owned business not affiliated with any hospital or medical teaching institution. Such facilities can be owned and operated by a single oncologist with supporting staff working from one location or hundreds of oncologists and their supporting staff who work collectively from multiple locations. Either way, the level of care these community oncology practices provide to patients diagnosed with cancer is nothing short of remarkable. According to the Community Oncology Alliance (COA), a non-profit organization committed to preserving and protecting access to community cancer care, community oncology practices provide cancer to more than 55% of people diagnosed with cancer. In addition to being ahead of the curve when it comes to trends in oncology, these practices offer many more things to help patients beat cancer or enjoy a much better quality of life if the disease is proven incurable, including
When a patient has cancer, everything suddenly becomes urgent, including getting the medication and medical care they need to help send the disease into remission. For that reason, most community-based oncology practices are in the communities where patients live, work, and, in some cases, where their children go to school. That level of convenience means patients don’t have to choose between tending to personal or professional obligations and getting the cancer treatments they desperately need.
Access to the newest pharmacotherapies
Although not affiliated with hospitals or medical teaching institutions, community-based oncology practices are still privy to the latest and the greatest when it comes to cancer-fighting drugs. Most drugs available to treat cancer today first had to go through clinical trials in a community-based oncology practice before receiving FDA approval and becoming mainstream.
While cost is the last thing on the minds of most people diagnosed with cancer, it is, nonetheless, important. That said, the cost of cancer treatments in most community-based oncology practices can be up to 50% less expensive compared to comparable treatments at hospitals.
In addition to convenient locations, affordable cancer treatments, and the luxury of receiving the newest cancer-fighting drugs first, community-based oncology practices also have state-of-the-art medical equipment. All of these things ensure patients receive the absolute best care possible.
Future Oncology Treatments and Why They Might Be a Game Changer in the Fight Against Cancer
When it comes to the future of oncology, many things are on the horizon, not only for physicians but also for patients. Studies show there will soon be an even bigger push to get patients to take advantage of telemedicine whenever possible. And this is to avoid a resumption of people putting off appointments with their physicians and then coming to find out they had cancer after the disease metastasized, which is what occurred during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with telemedicine, making more advancements in precision medicine is also on the agenda. For those unaware, precision medicine is when a physician uses genomics, the study of one’s genes, the information specific to the type of cancer an individual has, and other factors to help them develop a unique cancer treatment plan for a patient.
In summary, community-based oncology practices are behind cancer treatment breakthroughs that are helping to improve and save the lives of many people diagnosed with cancer. They are also at the forefront of many future oncology treatments that promise to do the same.