Cancer Care in the United States: Newly Released IOM Report Details a “System in Crisis”

A recent IOM report addresses the challenges in delivering high-quality cancer care to all Americans from diagnosis to end of life.

A recent IOM report addresses the challenges in delivering high-quality cancer care to all Americans from diagnosis to end of life.


Memorial Sloan Kettering experts comment on the latest findings by the Institute of Medicine about the quality, coordination, and cost of cancer care.

“We’re leaving an opportunity to improve the health of our society on the table because of multiple barriers, including financial obstacles, and that’s a failure of our system that’s quite profound, and must change,” says Peter B. Bach, an epidemiologist and Director of the Center for Health Policy and Outcomes at Memorial Sloan Kettering, commenting on the cost of cancer care and an Institute of Medicine (IOM) report delivered to the American public last month on the state of cancer care in the United States.

More than a decade has passed since the IOM, an independent, nonprofit organization that advises decision makers and the public about health and science policy, released its first and only other national study on cancer care. The healthcare community at large agrees that the  new report is not only a much-need evaluation but it’s timing is fitting, as conversations about the quality, coordination, and cost of cancer care are top of mind among many Americans.

About the Report

In 2012, a committee of healthcare professionals spanning multiple disciplines, including cancer survivorship and public health, was appointed to address the current challenges in delivering high-quality care across the continuum, from diagnosis to end of life, and to develop strategies and recommendations for improvement. The result of the year-long effort tells a story of a system that is not prepared to handle what lies ahead.

“We are facing a national crisis that will only build as our population ages, the complexities of cancer treatment become greater, our medical workforce shrinks, and medical costs increase,” says Mary McCabe, Director of Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Cancer Survivorship Initiative and an IOM committee member. “Healthcare must begin to move in the direction of becoming more patient centered with a focus on value.”

Among the committee’s final recommendations are six core yet complex components identified as being attributes of high-quality care. They include, but are not limited to, improving patient engagement, using evidence-based scientific research to inform treatment choices, and providing accessible and affordable healthcare for all Americans.

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