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Sustaining a Strong National Cancer Workforce

CHALLENGE:  The demand for cancer services is projected to exceed the supply of cancer health professionals threatening access and quality across the continuum of research and care.

SHARED GOAL:  Define and pursue a coordinated national strategy for ensuring the capacity and skills of the cancer workforce. 

C-Change Workforce Platform Summary*

Professional Challenge

Patient Impact

  • Demand for oncologists is expected to exceed supply by 25-30% by 2020
  • The social work labor force is older than most professions, with nearly 30% of licensed social workers over age 55
  • By 2020, the shortage of registered nurses will be greater than 1 million
  • Cancer registrar demand is estimated to grow 10% in the next 15 years
  • More than 20% of the US population lives in areas deemed as health professional shortage areas
  • The proportion of minorities in the population outstrips their representation among health professionals by several-fold

  • Delays in diagnosis
  • Longer wait times
  • Delays in treatment
  • Care provided by less experienced or expert professionals
  • Less frequent interaction with clinical and supportive services
  • Delays in the evaluation and management of symptoms
  • Worsening health disparities
  • Decreased clinical trial enrollment



Guiding Principles

Increase QuantityRecruit, retain, and support re-entry of cancer professionals to expand the capacity of the workforce

  • Cancer professions need to be aggressively promoted as rewarding, stable, and important careers.
  • Professionals and students need to be retained by supporting their success and satisfaction.

Increase Quality - Train and retrain cancer professionals to strengthen their knowledge and skills

  • Cancer professionals must be better prepared with the knowledge and skills to meet the health, cultural, and informational needs of the populations they serve.
  • Cancer professionals must maintain competency and be prepared to lead within the team, organization, community, and systems in which they work.

Improve Value - Optimize the role and organization of cancer professionals to realize the full value of the workforce

  • Cancer professionals should be individually supported to apply their entire scope of practice.
  • Cancer professionals should be organizationally supported to leverage their time, talent, and geographic distribution. 

Take Action:
Since the quantity, quality, and value of the cancer workforce are controlled and influenced by numerous entities, leadership is needed from federal and state policymakers, educators from all levels and disciplines, healthcare and research institutions, as well as the general public to strengthen the workforce.

Advisory Committee Chairs:
Edward J. Benz, Jr., MD, FACP
Betsy Clark, PhD, ACSW, MPH

Advisory Committee List

C-Change Reports and facts sheets

Other Resources








































C-Change’s success is made possible by the commitment of our members, funding of our donors, and dedication of our staff, for which we are deeply grateful.  The 2012 Workforce Initiative has been funded in part by Susan G. Komen for the Cure.  Additional funding also comes from individuals, the American Cancer Society, Hogan Lovells (pro bono), Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and State Farm Insurance Companies. (Updated 5/15/12)