Barriers to Oncology Careers Focused on Cancer Prevention Could Be Addressed Through Education, Research Opportunities, Advocacy

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A new study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO) on the barriers facing oncology professionals to a career focus in cancer prevention found that a lack of mentors and exposure during training, unclear career path, and uncertainty regarding reimbursement caused reluctance to incorporate prevention into a career in cancer care.

The study, “Barriers to a Career Focus in Cancer Prevention: A Report and Initial Recommendations From the American Society of Clinical Oncology Cancer Prevention Workforce Pipeline Work Group,” surveyed oncology fellows and their training program directors to determine how each group views careers in cancer prevention and to identify obstacles in the way of such careers.

While 88% of the oncology fellows thought cancer prevention was important relative to treatment, only 15% indicated they would likely be interested in cancer prevention as a career focus. Training directors estimated that 10% of fellows starting an academic career or entering private practice would have a career focus in cancer prevention. Top fellow-listed barriers to an academic career focused on cancer prevention were difficulty in obtaining funding and lower compensation. Additional barriers to an academic career with a prevention focus included unclear career model, lack of clinical mentors, lack of clinical training opportunities, and concerns about reimbursement.

The authors of the study call for more educational resources for fellows, training directors, and practicing oncologists, an increase in funded training and clinical research opportunities, more content on prevention in accrediting examinations for clinical oncologists, and advocacy focused on broadening the scope and depth of reimbursement for prevention counseling and intervention services in order to address these barriers.  

To read the full JCO article, go to:

© 2015. American Society of Clinical Oncology. All rights reserved.




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