Abstract

BACKGROUND: While hematologic cancers comprise only 10% of all malignancies, they are divided into >100 distinct World Health Organization subtypes. It is known that higher volume of care is generally associated with better clinical outcomes. However, such a volume-outcome relationship in the medical management of hematologic cancers has not been rigorously explored. The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) National Census of Oncology Practices shows that the majority of hematologist-oncologists in the United States (US) have a combined hematology-oncology practice (J Oncol Pract 2013). In this study, we estimated the annual number of new and established patients with major hematologic cancers seen on average by a hematologist-oncologist in the US.

METHODS: We estimated the number of hematologist-oncologists working in the US using the ASCO workforce information system data from 2011. We utilized statistics from the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program to determine the incidence and 37-year limited prevalence of hematologic cancers in 2011. We used 'first malignant tumor per site' statistics as the tumor inclusion method. For potentially curable hematologic cancers (acute lymphocytic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, Burkitt lymphoma, diffuse large b-cell lymphoma, Hodgkin lymphoma, and marginal zone lymphoma), we used the estimated 1-5 year survival rates from SEER and excluded patients who survived >5 years, since relapses are rare afterwards. Because prevalence estimates of chronic myelomonocytic leukemia, myelodysplastic syndromes, and certain subtypes of non-Hodgkin lymphoma are unavailable, we were unable to calculate the number of annual established cases. For myeloproliferative neoplasms, we obtained the prevalence estimate from Mehta J, et al (Leuk Lymphoma 2014). We derived the distribution of major non-Hodgkin lymphoma subtypes from the National Cancer Data Base (NCDB) Participant User File.

RESULTS: The ASCO workforce information reported a total of 13,084 hematologist-oncologists working in the US in 2011. The Table summarizes the average number of specific hematologic cancer cases seen per hematologist-oncologist in 2011.

CONCLUSION: Hematologic cancers are relatively rare but complex. In the US, a hematologist-oncologist on average cares for only 1-2 new patients of any subtype of hematologic cancers annually. The number of established patients is correspondingly low. These numbers are expected to vary by practice setting and disease specialization. As the diagnosis and management of hematologic cancers becomes more sophisticated, future research should explore the potential of a volume to clinical outcome relationship for these providers.

Table.
Hematologic CancerAverage Annual Number of Cases per Hematologist-Oncologist in the US
 New Cases Established Cases All Cases 
Acute lymphocytic leukemia 0.4 1.4 1.8 
Acute myeloid leukemia 1.5 2.5 
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia 1.1 10.7 11.8 
Chronic myeloid leukemia 0.4 2.7 3.1 
Chronic myelomonocytic leukemia 0.1 
Hodgkin lymphoma 0.7 2.7 3.4 
Multiple myeloma 1.6 6.3 7.9 
Myelodysplastic syndromes 1.2 
Myeloproliferative neoplasms 0.6 22.2 22.8 
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma 5.1 
Anaplastic large cell 0.1 
Burkitt 0.1 0.3 0.4 
Diffuse large B-cell 
Follicular 1.1 
Hairy cell leukemia 0.1 
Lymphoplasmacytic 0.1 
Mantle-cell 0.3 
Marginal zone 0.5 2.1 2.6 
Peripheral T-cell, not otherwise specified 0.1 
Hematologic CancerAverage Annual Number of Cases per Hematologist-Oncologist in the US
 New Cases Established Cases All Cases 
Acute lymphocytic leukemia 0.4 1.4 1.8 
Acute myeloid leukemia 1.5 2.5 
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia 1.1 10.7 11.8 
Chronic myeloid leukemia 0.4 2.7 3.1 
Chronic myelomonocytic leukemia 0.1 
Hodgkin lymphoma 0.7 2.7 3.4 
Multiple myeloma 1.6 6.3 7.9 
Myelodysplastic syndromes 1.2 
Myeloproliferative neoplasms 0.6 22.2 22.8 
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma 5.1 
Anaplastic large cell 0.1 
Burkitt 0.1 0.3 0.4 
Diffuse large B-cell 
Follicular 1.1 
Hairy cell leukemia 0.1 
Lymphoplasmacytic 0.1 
Mantle-cell 0.3 
Marginal zone 0.5 2.1 2.6 
Peripheral T-cell, not otherwise specified 0.1 

Disclosures

No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes

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