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Towards zero percent treatment abandonment of patients with common and curable childhood cancer types in Blantyre, Malawi

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Simon Bailey, Professor ELizabeth Molyneux


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© 2022 Wiley Periodicals LLC. Background: Treatment abandonment is a common cause of treatment failure in low-income countries (LIC). We implemented a comprehensive package of interventions aiming to enable all families to complete the treatment of their child. The objective of this study was to evaluate the impact of those interventions. Procedure: In this prospective and historically controlled study, we included all children younger than 16 years with a newly diagnosed common and curable cancer type (acute lymphoblastic leukaemia [ALL], Hodgkin disease, Wilms tumour, retinoblastoma and Burkitt lymphoma) admitted to the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi, between 1 June 1 2019 and 1 June 1 2020. Interventions to enable treatment completion included full funding of costs to the family (treatment, transport, accommodation and food in the hospital) and tracking of patients if they did not attend treatment appointments. The outcomes of patients were compared with those of a similar historical cohort. Results: The intervention cohort of 150 patients were compared to 264 historical control patients. Treatment abandonment decreased significantly from 19% (49/264) to 7% (10/150) (p <.001). The proportion of patients with Wilms tumour, retinoblastoma or ALL alive without evidence of disease at the end of treatment increased from 38% (57/149) to 53% (44/83) (p =.03). Conclusion: A simple and relatively low-cost comprehensive intervention package with no costs for families, significantly decreased treatment abandonment. This strategy may increase survival of children with common and curable cancers in LIC, especially when coupled with improvements in access to treatment and quality of treatment, including supportive care.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Chakumatha E, Khofi H, Landman L, Weijers J, Bailey S, Chagaluka G, Molyneux E, Israels T

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Pediatric Blood and Cancer

Year: 2022

Volume: 69

Issue: 12

Print publication date: 01/12/2022

Online publication date: 23/07/2022

Acceptance date: 04/07/2022

ISSN (print): 1545-5009

ISSN (electronic): 1545-5017

Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Inc.


DOI: 10.1002/pbc.29899


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