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Global Oncology Program

Building Healthier Communities
Alvaro Alencar, M.D.

Sylvester’s Global Oncology and International Programs initiative is working to alleviate cancer control inequalities in low- and middle-income countries. The program addresses health care disparities, studies regional differences in cancer biology, prevention and education and seeks to improve care and public policy.

Though the COVID-19 pandemic has often closed borders over the past two years, the initiative continues to be active through virtual programs and other means. Alvaro Alencar, M.D., Global Oncology’s hematology lead, chairs a malignant hematology meeting that has become one of the most important hematology educational events in Brazil. The fourth annual meeting was held virtually from Sao Paulo in March 2021, with more than 1,500 registrants.

Virtual preceptorships have allowed international health care providers to continue learning from our experts. One of the most important events last year focused on next generation sequencing (NGS), a technology that screens tumors for genetic mutations that could potentially be treated with targeted therapies. While expensive, NGS helps clinicians choose drugs more likely to be effective and avoid toxicity.

In Brazil, access to the these diagnostic tools is limited due to cost and the technology’s availability. Dr. Alencar and Gilberto Lopes, M.D., associate director for Global Oncology, met with Brazilian medical oncology leaders, government agencies, and health insurance companies to share Sylvester’s experience, help the nation overcome economic barriers and expand NGS help more cancer patients.