Improving Cancer Care Delivery in Prisons
Oluwadamilola T. Oladeru, MD, MA, of the Harvard Radiation Oncology Program (Massachusetts General Hospital) is dedicated to documenting and addressing health disparities experienced by incarcerated individuals. With the first ever James D. Cox Resident’s Research Award from the ROI, Dr. Oladeru is undertaking a study of the radiation treatment provided at the Federal Medical Center, Butner North Carolina (FMC Butner) and developing an integrated value-based model for cancer care delivery in the federal prison system that can be adapted to state prisons. Dr. Oladeru’s research is critical now as cancer incidence is rising in the incarcerated population, and cancer is the leading cause of illness-related deaths in state prisons. Additionally, incarcerated individuals are disproportionately from racial and ethnic minority groups and socio-economically disadvantaged communities, compounding the disparities present in the prison healthcare system.
FMC Butner is the only one of seven medical centers in the Federal Bureau of Prisons that has the capacity for on-site radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and palliative care service. Incarcerated individuals who need cancer care are transferred to FMC Butner for the duration of their treatment. Dr. Oladeru says, “Despite the comprehensive and multidisciplinary model of cancer care at FMC Butner, we see opportunities to improve its cost-effectiveness, address knowledge gaps of administrators, mitigate disparities in care and implement strategies to improve outcomes for patients.”
In this study, Dr. Oladeru and her team are:
- Measuring the cancer incidence and mortality at the federal prison level and assessing its relationship to other illness-related deaths in this population.
- Characterizing the utilization of radiation treatment at FMC Butner and measuring the association between incarceration and cancer.
- Assessing the relationship between incarceration status, race, socioeconomic status, quality of multidisciplinary care and cancer-related mortality.
- Developing an integrated value-based model for cancer care delivery in the federal prison system that leverages tele-oncology for survivorship care.
Dr. Oladeru is an exceptional early career researcher who has authored several publications on health disparities in prisons in high-profile journals including The Lancet and Health Affairs and is advancing her work to deliver quality cancer care for incarcerated individuals with support from the ROI. Her impressive record and ambitious research plans made her an ideal candidate for the James D. Cox Resident’s Research Award, which is presented to an outstanding radiation oncology resident researcher. “Dr. Oladeru embodies everything that I had hoped for in the first recipient of the James D. Cox Resident’s Research Award winner,” says Ritsuko Komaki-Cox, MD, FASTRO, who established the award in memory of her late husband. “The future of radiation oncology is bright because of researchers like Dr. Oladeru who are pushing the field forward by addressing disparities so that all patients have access to radiation therapy as part of high-quality comprehensive cancer care. We all need to teach the next generation not only the knowledge of cancer research and treatment but also how to treat patients and their families with our sympathy and kindness.”