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Cancer study finds shortage of specialists in the future

By: Ruben Veloz
EL PASO, Texas -- Theres worry there may not be enough specialists to treat the number of cancer patients in the coming decades. 
 
Cancer is expected to be the primary cause of death in the United States by the year 2050, and there is already fear there won't be enough oncologists to help.
 
According the Texas Oncology Treatment Center, there were 112,000 people who were diagnosed with cancer in 2013, and the center predicts 38,000 Texans will die from cancer in 2014.
 
West El Paso resident Alia Ureste told KFOX14 she remembered the day her friend died of colon cancer.
 
"I went home crying, just overwhelmed with the pain that someone I knew was dying so early in life, said Ureste.
 
Ureste said she was working as a registered nurse at the same hospital where her friend was seeking treatment.
 
"Watching her was very difficult. Said Ureste, Just the desperation, of not being able to breathe, not being able to have her pain controlled."
          
A recent report by the American Society of Clinical Oncology estimates by 2025, the number of cancer patients will increase to 42 percent, resulting in a shortage of 1,500 specialists.

"I no longer am in the acute care field, said Ureste, I am at home with my children, but at the same time if ever I need a cancer specialist, if there is a shortage I am very alarmed."
          
The study showed people living in rural areas will be the hardest hit by the shortage, forcing doctors and nurses to take over some of the treatments.
          
Some El Pasoans tell KFOX14 spoke with feel like not enough is being done to fix the problem. 
 
"It is very scary because haven't heard much about health and health education and health sciences, said Jesus Trillo.
 
Many universities like Texas Tech University's Health Sciences Center are working hard to create programs to ease the doctor shortage.
          
According to Texas Tech University Science Health and Science Center, Texas is one states that are already hardest hit by the hardest hit by the shortage.
          
Experts believe the government needs to step up to find ways to fund more money towards education so that more oncologists can be trained to deal with future demand.
 
"I think that is the best way to get people motivated to do this and really because I know I wanted to be a doctor but it's a long way. It's very expensive, said Trillo.
 
Researchers said some of the factors that are contributing to this shortage are an aging baby boomer generation and health care reform, which will allow millions of people who didn't have health care before the opportunity to get treatment in the future.

 

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