Friday, May 16, 2014

Exploring opportunities to expand cancer care

ON THE HORIZON: From left, Randall, Cusack and Tony Wilson, MD, director of MUST/MRRH Medicine, looking out on the two-acre plot reserved for the new cancer center.

The MGH Cancer Center recently sent a team to the city of Mbarara in southwestern Uganda to explore a collaboration with the local university and hospital to build a new national referral cancer center. The team was invited by Frederick Kayanja, vice chancellor professor at the Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST), the Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital (MRRH) and the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI).

“The majority of cancer care is provided by the UCI, which houses the country’s only radiation unit,” says James Cusack, MD, director of the MGH Global Surgery Initiative. “This radiation source is critically outdated, causing significantly prolonged treatment exposures for treatments to be effective.”

There is a month-long delay for patients despite efforts to operate the unit for more than 18 hours a day. Patients travel to the UCI for cancer care from all over Uganda, as well as from the East African community and other neighboring countries such as Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

For more than a decade, the MGH has collaborated with MUST in the areas of HIV/AIDS research, clinical pediatrics and internal medicine. “The MGH Cancer Center will continue to explore strategies for improving and expanding cancer care in this severely underserved country,” says Cusack.

The MGH Cancer Center team who joined Cusack were Marcia Browne, MD, and Elizabeth Bigger, MD, both of the Center for Hematology/Oncology in the MGH Cancer Center; Thomas Randall, MD, of the MGH Vincent Obstetrics and Gynecology Department; and Johanna Riesel, MD, a resident in the MGH Department of Surgery and Paul Farmer Global Surgery Research Fellow.

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Read more articles from the 05/16/14 Hotline issue.


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