Current status of medical oncology in Japan and changes over the most recent 7-year period: results of a questionnaire sent to designated cancer care hospitals

Makoto Arai, Izumi Ohno, Koji Takahashi, Meng Meng Fan, Akinobu Tawada, Chikashi Ishioka, Yuichi Takiguchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: According to a questionnaire sent to Designated Cancer Care Hospitals in Japan in 2013, only 39.4% of the institutes had medical oncology departments. Furthermore, most of these medical oncology departments were primarily responsible for the treatment of limited disease categories and the administration of newly developed therapeutic modalities, including molecular-targeted therapy. The aim of the present study was to update these previous findings and to clarify the changes over the intervening 7-year period. Methods: The questionnaire was sent to all 393 Designated Cancer Care Hospitals on 13 March 2020. Similar to the previous questionnaires, questions were asked regarding the presence of a medical oncology department, the number of physicians in the department and the degrees of responsibility for drug therapies provided by medical oncologists to adult patients with solid cancers. Results: In total, 270 institutions (68.7%) responded. Overall, 145 of these 270 institutions (53.7%) had medical oncology departments, representing a significant increase compared with the results of the previous study (P < 0.01). Among the institutions with a medical oncology department, these departments were responsible for the administration of over 30% of all cytotoxic and molecular-targeted drug therapies for extragonadal germ cell tumors, cancers of unknown primary site, soft tissues, head and neck, esophagus, stomach, colon and rectum, and pancreas as well as the administration of immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) for microsatellite instability-high tumors, cancers of the stomach, esophagus and head and neck, and melanoma. Conclusion: The proportion of institutes with medical oncology departments in Japan has increased. In addition, the responsibility of medical oncology departments has expanded to include newly emerging drugs, such as ICIs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1622-1627
Number of pages6
JournalJapanese journal of clinical oncology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Nov 1
Externally publishedYes


  • chemotherapy
  • immune-checkpoint inhibitors
  • medical oncology
  • molecular-targeted therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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