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Half a million doctors needed for cancer surgery

Friday January 22nd 2021

The world will need half a million more doctors in the next 20 years, just to cope with growing demand for cancer surgery, according to a major new analysis.

More than 400,000 of these doctors will need to be surgeons and the remainder anaesthetists, according to the study in The Lancet.

By 2040, the world will need another 4.7 million episodes of cancer surgery annually, an increase of 52%, the researchers say. The biggest increases will have to be in low income countries.

In 34 low income countries, demand for surgery will double, reaching 650,000 cases a year, the researchers say.

Researcher Dr Sathira Perera, from the University of New South Wales, Australia, said: " These findings highlight a need to act quickly to ensure that increasing workforce requirements in low-income countries are adequately planned for. There needs to be an increased focus on the application of cost-effective models of care, along with government endorsement of scientific evidence to mobilise resources for expanding services."

A second study in The Lancet Oncology, by researchers at Edinburgh University, UK, links poor post-operative care in low income countries with poor outcomes. Researchers studied care for patients with breast, bowel and stomach cancer.

Researcher Professor Ewen Harrison said: “The association between having post-operative care and lower mortality rates following major complications indicates a need to improve care systems to detect and intervene when complications occur. Increasing this capacity to rescue patients from complications could help reduce deaths following cancer surgery in low- and middle-income countries.

"High quality all-round surgical care requires appropriate recovery and ward space, a sufficient number of well-trained staff, the use of early warning systems, and ready access to imaging, operating theatre space, and critical care facilities.”

Lancet 21 January 2021

[abstract]

Tags: Australia | Cancer | UK News | World Health

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