National Study Examines Major US Cities Facing Shortages of Cancer Specialists

With breast cancer cases exceeding 250,000 in 2017, many cities risk shortages that could mean longer wait times between diagnosis and treatment

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., October 9, 2018 -- Doximity today released a new study detailing a concerning trend that could potentially impact cancer care, including women diagnosed with breast cancer, in the United States. The report, “2018 National Oncologists Workforce Study” is the first of its kind ever to uncover the potential shortages of oncologists across the largest 50 U.S. metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs). Doximity researchers examined retirement trends, percentage of state-trained specialists and prevalence of breast cancer on a city-by-city basis.

Top 10 MSAs most likely to suffer a shortage of oncologists in the coming years:

  1. Miami, Fla.
  2. Virginia Beach, Va.
  3. Tampa, Fla.
  4. Washington D.C.
  5. North Port, Fla.
  6. Tucson, Ariz.
  7. Las Vegas, Nev.
  8. New Orleans, La.
  9. Raleigh, N.C.
  10. Providence, R.I.

The study found that in half of the MSAs surveyed, over 20 percent of practicing oncologists are over the age of 65. The aging workforce is an important factor in the estimated shortage of 2,200 oncologists by 2025, as projected by the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

“Cancer is the second leading cause of death for American women and a national shortage of oncologists could impact care, causing delays between diagnosis and treatment. Our study is the first of its kind to examine how this trend could play out in major cities across the country and the various demographic factors contributing to the problem,” said Amit Phull, M.D. Vice President of Strategy and Insights at Doximity.

Additional findings include:

  1. An imminent wave of retiring oncologists: In many areas, a large portion of the oncologist population is already approaching the age of retirement.
    • The metros with the highest percentage of oncologist who are 65 years old and older are: Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, Fla.; Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, Calif.; Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, Mich.; Tucson, Ariz.; and New Orleans-Metairie, La.
    • The metros with the lowest percentage of oncologists who are 65 years old and older are: Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, Tenn.; Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, N.C.-S.C.; Cleveland-Elyria, Ohio; Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas.
  2. Nearly a two-fold variation in breast cancer rates across metros: Breast cancer rates in women between the ages of 40-75 varied from 227 to 337.5 (per 100,000).
    • The metros with the highest number of women with breast cancer are: Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, Va.-N.C.; Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, N.Y.; Rochester, N.Y.; Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, Conn.; and Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Mass.-N.H.
    • The metros with the lowest number of women with breast cancer are: Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nev.; Tucson, Ariz.; Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif.; San Antonio-New Braunfels, Texas; and Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas.

“Doximity’s unique data set has helped us garner a better understanding of a serious threat to our healthcare system. By taking a closer look at risks to the workforce of cancer specialists at both a national and local level, we’re able to get a clearer view into how this trend will impact local communities across the country,” said Christopher Whaley, Ph.D., lead author of the report and adjunct assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health.

Read the full report here.


Doximity’s study is drawn from CMS data, board certification data, and self-reported data on more than 20,000 full-time, board-certified oncology practitioners. Responses were mapped across metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), and the top 50 MSAs were selected by the population of women above age 40 according to 2010 Census data.

The age-adjusted breast cancer incidence data comes from the 2014 United States Cancer Statistics and the Center for Disease Control’s WONDER database.

About Doximity

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