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Dr. Chris Prakash Joins National Rural Cancer Care Task Force

October 21, 2019

Sucharu “Chris” Prakash, M.D., a medical oncologist at Texas Oncology–Paris, was appointed to the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO) Rural Cancer Care Task Force, furthering his longtime efforts toward improving cancer care access and quality in rural Texas.

Dr. Prakash, who also serves on the board of directors for Texas Oncology, the US Oncology Breast Cancer Research Committee, and the Texas Medical Association Committee on Cancer, was appointed to the task force in recognition of his expertise in serving patients in Paris and his long-established interest the healthcare needs of rural Texas. The Rural Cancer Care Task Force will report through ASCO’s Health Equity Committee and anticipates work being completed by the end of 2021.

In his new role, Dr. Prakash will assist in identifying strategic approaches to meet the challenges of improving access to high-quality care in rural America.

Major Challenges Facing Rural Patients Living with Cancer

Dr. Prakash says the biggest challenges facing rural patients are lack of insurance, or often inadequate coverage, lack of transportation, or the need to travel long distances for medical care, obstacles to clinical trials, and lack of palliative care and support services, like social workers, nutritional support, and mental health workers.

“These challenges result in patients in rural areas being diagnosed at later stages of disease,” Dr. Prakash said. “In turn, the rural population has a higher cancer-related mortality rate.”

With his appointment to the task force, Dr. Prakash says he hopes to further his career-long commitment to addressing the unique challenges of rural cancer care, many of which he’s seen firsthand as a practicing oncologist in Paris. He joined Texas Oncology–Paris in July 2000, immediately after his fellowship, and was attracted to the small-town charm, family-friendly atmosphere, and kind people.

In his nearly 20 years of service with Texas Oncology, Dr. Prakash has grown familiar with the intricacies of rural oncology, working closely with the local hospital and medical providers to ensure consistent delivery of high-quality oncology care to the community.

Goals for Improving Rural Care

Looking ahead, Dr. Prakash hopes to ultimately improve cancer care delivery in the rural areas surrounding Paris. He sees opportunities to use advanced practice providers to help care for cancer patients, helping to mitigate the existing shortage of physicians. In addition, he would like to increase opportunities for medical education and training for oncology providers, expand the use of telemedicine, improve patient education regarding screening and prevention, and finally, improve access to clinical trials.

“Providing high quality cancer care to rural Americans can only be accomplished if we tackle the various challenges with full force,” Dr. Prakash said. “It will require support of providers, hospitals, insurance companies, and legislators. I am honored to be a member of this task force and help to make a difference.”

For upcoming webinars visit www.TexasOncologyFoundation.org.