Delivery of global cancer care: An international study of medical oncology workload

Adam Fundytus, Richard Sullivan, Verna Vanderpuye, Bostjan Seruga, Gilberto Lopes, Nazik Hammad, Manju Sengar, Wilma M. Hopman, Michael D. Brundage, Christopher Booth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Background: To our knowledge, there is no literature that has described medical oncology (MO) workload in the global context. Here, we report results of an international study of global MO workload. Methods: An online survey was distributed through a snowball method via national oncology societies to chemotherapy-prescribing physicians in 65 countries. Countries were classified into low- or low-middle-income countries (LMICs), upper-middle-income countries (UMICs), and high-income countries (HICs) on the basis of World Bank criteria. Workload was measured as the annual number of new consultations provided to patients with cancer per oncologist. Results: A total of 1,115 physicians completed the survey: 13% (147 of 1,115) from LMICs, 17% (186 of 1,115) from UMICs, and 70% (782 of 1,115) from HICs. Eighty percent (897 of 1,115) of respondents were medical oncologists, 10% (109 of 1,115) were clinical oncologists, and 10% (109 of 1,115) were other. The median number of annual consults per oncologist was 175 (interquartile range, 75 to 275); 13% (140 of 1,103) saw ≥ 500 new patients in a year. Annual case volume in LMICs (median consults, 425; 40% of respondents seeing > 500 consults) was substantially higher than in UMICs (median consults, 175; 14% > 500) and HICs (median consults, 175; 7% > 500; P < .001). Among LMICs, UMICs, and HICs, median working days per week were 6, 5, and 5, respectively (P < .001). The highest annual case volumes per oncologist were in Pakistan (median consults, 950; 73% > 500 consults), India (median consults, 475; 43% > 500), and Turkey (median consults, 475; 27% > 500). Conclusion: There is substantial global variation in medical oncology case volumes and clinical workload; this is most striking among LMICs, where huge deficits exist. Additional work is needed, particularly detailed country-level mapping, to quantify activity-based global MO practice and workload to inform training needs and the design of new pathways and models of care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Global Oncology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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