When cancer will become America's #1 killer, plus 9 more facts you didn't know about cancer

By Deirdre Saulet , Practice Manager, Oncology Roundtable


Deirdre Saulet

Do you know how big the so-called "Angelina Jolie" effect was for genetic testing? Or just how few late-stage cancer patients have completed an advance directive? Or when cancer will overtake heart disease as America's leading killer?

If you're like most providers, you work, celebrate, and mourn with cancer patients every day—but you probably don't know these 10 facts about their condition.

Read on to learn more, and make sure to sign up for our upcoming Oncology Essentials webconference series to discover how your organization can best attract, treat, and care for cancer patients.

Register for the Series

What you might not know about breast cancer

1. The odds of being diagnosed with breast cancer have actually risen over the past 40 years.

In the 1970s, 1 out of 11 (9%) women was diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Today, it is 1 out of 8 (12.4%). This increase is due to better detection of cancer—which means that we're aware of cases that previously would have gone undetected—as well as an increase in risk factors, including longer life expectancy, greater hormone use, and rising rates of obesity.

2. Inherited genetic mutations cause about 1 in every 10 cases of breast cancer.

An estimated 5-10% of breast cancers can be traced to specific, inherited genetic mutations, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2. While fewer than 1% of the general population carries a BRCA mutation, those who do are at a far greater risk for developing cancer, especially at a younger age.

3. 'The Angelina Jolie effect' was real, and caused a huge increase in genetic testing.

In the months following an op-ed written by actress Angelina Jolie about undergoing a preventative double mastectomy after finding out she carried the BRCA1 mutation, testing rates for BRCA1 and BRCA2 variations rose by 40-60%.

Want to learn more about how providers are increasing breast cancer screenings and expanding access to multidisciplinary breast cancer care? Register for our webconference on How to Attract and Retain Breast Cancer Patients on October 2nd.

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Trends you need to be aware of in cancer care

4. Cancer is likely to be the #1 killer in the US by 2030.

By 2030, cancer is predicted to surpass heart disease as the number one killer of Americans. Currently, it accounts for 22.5% of all deaths in the US, compared to the 23.4% deaths caused by heart disease. Some states have already reached this crossover point: As of 2014, 22 states reported more deaths from cancer than heart disease.

5. Dramatically more patients are receiving chemotherapy in the hospital.

In 2004, only 6% of private payers' claims for chemotherapy infusions were in a hospital-based setting. By 2014, that jumped to 46%. This is largely caused by reimbursement changes which have incentivized hospital-based over office-based treatment.

Changing demographic trends, regulatory proposals, and new innovations have significantly impacted the oncology market in recent years. Learn more about what to expect this next year by registering for our webconference on Oncology Market Trends on October 9th.

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What you need to know about cancer survivors

6. There will be over 20 million cancer survivors in the US by 2026.

A report from the American Cancer Society estimates that there are currently 15.5 million cancer survivors alive in the US today, and predicts that this number will grow to more than 20 million by 2026. This growth is largely driven by three factors: patients are living longer due to better treatments, cancer is being detected earlier when it's easier to treat, and the population of elderly Americans is growing quickly.

7. Up to 75% of cancer patients feel unsupported by their providers.

In a study of more than 1,100 cancer survivors, 75% reported that they do not receive enough information on their side effects and symptoms, and 60% say they do not have enough support to manage their interpersonal and emotional needs.

8. Cancer survivors who feel depressed are more likely to die

A 2013 study showed that cancer survivors with depressive symptoms had a two times greater of death compared to other cancer survivors.  Depressive symptoms are often unrecognized and undertreated in cancer patients, so the heightened risks faced by depressed patients could substantially increase overall cancer mortality.

Caring for a growing and diverse group of survivors requires a whole new model of care delivery. Learn how to develop comprehensive, yet financially sustainable, survivorship care by registering for webconference How to Meet the Needs of 18 Million (and Counting) Cancer Survivors on October 18th.

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What cancer patients want at the end of their lives

9. Only about 40% of cancer patients in America have completed an advance directive.

Just a fraction of even advanced-stage cancer patients in the US have completed an advanced directive. Although many patients understand the value of end-of-life planning and having a written advanced directive, very few follow through, especially when faced with deteriorating health.

10. Although most cancer patients want to die at home, few actually do.

Despite the fact that most patients—90% of Medicare patients, according to one study—say they want to receive end-of-life care and die at home, only one-third actually do. This often reflects the fact that patients often don't have a chance to express their care preferences and desires before they are unable to do so.

Offering palliative care and end-of-life planning can be hard. That's why we've recently spoken with dozens of providers around the country about how they do it. Want to learn the best practices we discovered on how to help patients and provider initiate end-of-life conversations? Register for our webconference on Improving End-of-Life Care for Cancer Patients on October 24th.

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