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USA Health Surgical Oncologist Receives Grant to Study Health Disparities


Annabelle Fonseca, M.D., M.H.S., a surgical oncologist at USA Health and an assistant professor of surgery at the Frederick P. Whiddon College of Medicine, received a grant totaling more than $800,000 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to research health disparities in foregut (upper gastrointestinal tract) cancers.

According to the NIH, foregut cancers account for almost 20% of new cancer deaths in the U.S. each year, and both the incidence and mortality from these cancers are higher in Southern states.

“We know receiving guideline-consistent care is associated with improved outcomes,” Fonseca said. “But there are a multitude of gaps in the care patients receive due to underlying factors, some of which can be changed.”

Fonseca said the research is focused on a systems-based approach to identify at-risk patients early and allow for early intervention and improvements to the quality of cancer care received.

“Dr. Fonseca is a dedicated surgeon, researcher and educator,” said Martin Heslin, M.D., M.S.H.A., director of the USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute. “I fully expect that she will continue to be successful and advance our understanding of healthcare disparities around GI cancers and improve the lives of the patients she serves. We are fortunate to have her as part of our team at the MCI and USA Health.”

Fonseca said she is honored to have received this grant. “It addresses a very important subject – improving quality and equity in the delivery of cancer care for patients with foregut cancers,” she said. “We have a long way to go, and so many improvements can be made in this area.”

Fonseca earned her medical degree at Padmashree Dr. D.Y. Patil Medical College in India. She continued her training, obtaining a Master of Health Science at Yale University School of Medicine and completing residency at Yale New Haven Hospital in New Haven, Connecticut. She completed a fellowship in complex general surgical oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.

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