New UIC fellowships cultivate future cancer experts, promote inclusion

Two new University of Illinois at Chicago fellowships are helping to advance cancer care and increase diversity in STEM fields.

One fellowship, created by the University of Illinois Cancer Center, is a first-of-its-kind, post-graduate program for primary care providers meant to expand the traditional definition of cancer care to more significantly focus on survivorship.

“As of January 2019, there are 16.9 million cancer survivors. By 2040, that figure is expected to exceed 26 million,” said Susan Hong, MD, director of the center’s survivorship program. “Yet despite advances in cancer screening and treatment leading to improved survival, many cancer survivors experience significant negative consequences. This is especially true for minority and underserved cancer survivors where studies demonstrate a growing disparity in the survivorship experience.”

To meet this need, Hong and the cancer center worked with the UIC College of Medicine to develop the first “oncogeneralist” fellowship program in the country, which teaches doctors additional skills related to the unique needs of the growing number of complex cancer survivors.

“The trained oncogeneralist will be able to care for high-risk cancer survivors and individuals at risk for treatment-related toxicities in the community setting, making specialized care more accessible to patients who need it most,” Hong said. “We hope this will inspire other academic cancer centers to create similar programs and models of care.”

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