Infectious Disease

Disparities in radiation oncology are ‘a massive problem’

September 17, 2022

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Disclosures:
Healio was unable to determine relevant financial disclosures at the time of publication.

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CHICAGO – Troubled by disparities in their field, two radiation oncologists are taking small yet integral steps to address inequities.

Parul N. Barry, M.D, FACRO, other Sarah genes gillianne DeFoeMD, Both of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Magee-Womens Hospital, told Healio that only a quarter of radiation oncologists are women, and less than 3% are underrepresented minorities.

“This is a massive problem for our field since about half of our patients are women and at least 20% or more of our patients” are from underrepresented populations, Barry said.

Barry and DeFoe have worked together to address the disparities in radiation oncology.

“I co-created with Dr. Barry a program on cancer and cancer disparities for radiation oncology residents. I think they were hungry for that information,” DeFoe said, noting that many residents felt helpless in 2020.

“They felt like they didn’t know how to address these issues that were clearly at hand, so we devised this course where we really dissected what does race mean in the context of the United States and how it defines race, and how we have really historically excluded a vast majority of the population, and how as residents they can make change for the future,” DeFoe said.

The next step, they said, will involve a program that will be implemented Sept. 28 to “further dissect the work” that they have started.

“These steps are integral but small steps, and hopefully they will address a larger goal in the country where we do need to address these disparities in health care and disparities in our workforce,” Barry said.

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