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Physician fellow, University of Texas Southwestern


Bringing curative treatment for cervical cancer to low income countries.

Purpose: Cervical cancer is a common cause of cancer mortality in the developing world where access to life saving radiation treatment is limited. The donation of a high dose rate brachytherapy unit in 2013 for the first time permitted curative radiotherapy for cervical cancer in Senegal. An accelerated treatment schedule was devised to address the unique challenges of providing cancer care in Senegal. We analyze the treatment outcomes for women with cervical cancer in Senegal since that time. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed women with cervical cancer treated using radiotherapy with curative intent at the sole radiation facility in Senegal. Telephone interviews were conducted using a validated questionnaire. Results: Our novel treatment paradigm appears to be safe and effective for women undergoing curative radiotherapy for cervical cancer in Senegal. Detailed results are embargoed. Conclusions: Many challenges confront the delivery of high quality cancer care in the developing world. Our novel accelerated approach to radiotherapy was implemented safely and effectively in Senegal. It may be a model for making curative radiotherapy available throughout the developing world.


Establishing and Delivering Quality Radiation Therapy in Resource-Constrained Settings: The Story of Botswana.

Abstract: There is a global cancer crisis, and it is disproportionately affecting resource-constrained settings, especially in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Radiotherapy is a critical and cost-effective component of a comprehensive cancer control plan that offers the potential for cure, control, and palliation of disease in greater than 50% of patients with cancer. Globally, LMICs do not have adequate access to quality radiation therapy and this gap is particularly pronounced in sub-Saharan Africa. Although there are numerous challenges in implementing a radiation therapy program in a low-resource setting, providing more equitable global access to radiotherapy is a responsibility and investment worth prioritizing. We outline a systems approach and a series of key questions to direct strategy toward establishing quality radiation services in LMICs, and highlight the story of private-public investment in Botswana from the late 1990s to the present. After assessing the need and defining the value of radiation, we explore core investments required, barriers that need to be overcome, and assets that can be leveraged to establish a radiation program. Considerations addressed include infrastructure; machine choice; quality assurance and patient safety; acquisition, development, and retention of human capital; governmental engagement; public-private partnerships; international collaborations; and the need to critically evaluate the program to foster further growth and sustainability.

Pub.: 19 Nov '15, Pinned: 29 Jun '17

Analysis of factors contributing to the low survival of cervical cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy in Kenya.

Abstract: In contrast to the developed nations, invasive cervical cancer (ICC) is the most common womens malignancy in Kenya and many other locations in sub-Saharan Africa. However, studies on survival from this disease in this area of the world are severely restricted by lack of patient follow-up. We now report a prospective cohort study of ICC in Kenyan women analysing factors affecting tumour response and overall survival in patients undergoing radiotherapy.Between 2008 and 2010, 355 patients with histologically confirmed ICC were recruited at the Departments of Gynaecology and Radiotherapy at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH). Structured questionnaires were completed recording socio-demographics, tumour response and overall survival following treatment with combinations of external beam radiation (EBRT), brachytherapy and adjuvant chemotherapy. Of the 355 patients, 42% (146) were lost to follow-up while 18% (64) died during the two year period. 80.5% of patients presented with advanced stage IIB disease or above, with only 6.7% of patients receiving optimal combined EBRT, brachytherapy and adjuvant chemotherapy. Kaplan Meier survival curves projected two year survival at <20%.Cervical cancer is preventable yet poverty, poor education, lack of cancer awareness coupled with an absence of regular screening programs, late patient presentation, sub-optimal diagnosis and treatments are major factors contributing to the alarmingly low survival rate of cervical cancer patients in Kenya. It is concluded that simple cost-effective changes in clinical practice could be introduced which would have a marked impact on patient survival in this setting.

Pub.: 10 Nov '13, Pinned: 30 Jun '17

Global cancer statistics, 2012.

Abstract: Cancer constitutes an enormous burden on society in more and less economically developed countries alike. The occurrence of cancer is increasing because of the growth and aging of the population, as well as an increasing prevalence of established risk factors such as smoking, overweight, physical inactivity, and changing reproductive patterns associated with urbanization and economic development. Based on GLOBOCAN estimates, about 14.1 million new cancer cases and 8.2 million deaths occurred in 2012 worldwide. Over the years, the burden has shifted to less developed countries, which currently account for about 57% of cases and 65% of cancer deaths worldwide. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among males in both more and less developed countries, and has surpassed breast cancer as the leading cause of cancer death among females in more developed countries; breast cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death among females in less developed countries. Other leading causes of cancer death in more developed countries include colorectal cancer among males and females and prostate cancer among males. In less developed countries, liver and stomach cancer among males and cervical cancer among females are also leading causes of cancer death. Although incidence rates for all cancers combined are nearly twice as high in more developed than in less developed countries in both males and females, mortality rates are only 8% to 15% higher in more developed countries. This disparity reflects regional differences in the mix of cancers, which is affected by risk factors and detection practices, and/or the availability of treatment. Risk factors associated with the leading causes of cancer death include tobacco use (lung, colorectal, stomach, and liver cancer), overweight/obesity and physical inactivity (breast and colorectal cancer), and infection (liver, stomach, and cervical cancer). A substantial portion of cancer cases and deaths could be prevented by broadly applying effective prevention measures, such as tobacco control, vaccination, and the use of early detection tests.

Pub.: 06 Feb '15, Pinned: 23 Jun '17

Patterns of practice in palliative radiotherapy in Africa - case revisited.

Abstract: To investigate patterns of practice in palliative radiotherapy in Africa.Fifteen centres in Africa provided detailed information about radiotherapy in both metastatic and locally advanced disease via a questionnaire. Information included general information (institution status, equipment, staff, patient number), radiotherapy and other treatment characteristics in bone metastasis, brain metastasis, metastatic spinal cord compression, lung and liver metastasis, as well as locally advanced tumours.The number of patients annually seen/treated ranged from 285 to 5000. Breast, cervix, head and neck, gastrointestinal and prostate cancer were the top five cancers overall. Eight (53%) institutions were without linear accelerators, four (27%) had a single one, whereas one institution each had two, three and four linear accelerators. The number of cobalt machines ranged from 0 to 2 (median 1). Most centres still prefer to use fractionated radiotherapy regimens over single-fraction regimens in bone metastasis, although most centres are now using single-fraction radiotherapy in retreatments. Radiotherapy in brain metastasis and metastatic spinal cord compression mostly conform to worldwide standards. Lung and liver metastases are rarely irradiated, largely as a consequence of the lack of modern radiotherapy technology. Locally advanced disease in various tumour sites was mostly palliated, in agreement with current evidence-based practices.African countries still lack adequate staffing and equipment to adequately address their clinical burden, being palliative in most cases. Emphasis should also be made on more rationally using existing capacities by using more of the single-fraction radiotherapy regimens, especially in bone metastasis.

Pub.: 22 Apr '14, Pinned: 30 Jun '17

Patterns of brachytherapy practice for patients with carcinoma of the cervix (1996-1999): a patterns of care study.

Abstract: To analyze the details of brachytherapy practice in patients treated for carcinoma of the cervix in the United States between 1996 and 1999.Radiation facilities were selected from a stratified random sample. Patients were randomly selected from lists of eligible patients treated at each facility. A total of 442 patients' records were reviewed in 59 facilities to obtain data about patients' characteristics, evaluation, tumor extent, and treatment. National estimates were made using weights that reflected the relative contribution of each institution and of each patient within the sampled institutions. From our survey we estimate that 16,375 patients were treated in the United States during this study period. Unless otherwise specified, brachytherapy practice was based on the 408 patients who had their brachytherapy or all their treatment at the surveyed facility.A total of 91.5% of patients underwent brachytherapy at the initial treating institution; 8.5% were referred to a second site for brachytherapy. Forty-two percent of U.S. facilities referred at least some patients to a second facility for brachytherapy. Of U.S. facilities that treated < or =2 eligible patients per year, 61% referred all of their patients to a second facility for brachytherapy or treated with external RT alone; none of the U.S. facilities with larger experience (>2 eligible patients per year) referred all their patients to a second facility for brachytherapy treatment, but 28% referred some patients to an outside facility for brachytherapy. Overall, 94% of patients who completed treatment with curative intent received brachytherapy. Of these patients who had brachytherapy, 77.8%, 13.3%, and 0.9%, respectively, were treated with low-dose-rate (LDR), high-dose-rate (HDR), or a combination of HDR and LDR brachytherapy; 7.9% had interstitial brachytherapy (5.7% LDR and 1.9% HDR, 0.3% mixed). In facilities that treated >2 patients per year, 15.5% and 9.4% of brachytherapy procedures included HDR or interstitial, respectively; in facilities that treated fewer patients, 3.4% had HDR brachytherapy, and only 1.2% had interstitial brachytherapy. Patients treated with LDR intracavitary radiotherapy had one (23.5%), two (74.1%), or three (2.4%) implants. For patients treated with curative intent who completed radiation therapy with LDR intracavitary radiation therapy without hysterectomy, the median brachytherapy dose to Point A was 40.3 Gy, and the median total dose to Point A was 82.9 Gy. Patients were treated with HDR intracavitary radiation therapy using a variety of treatment schedules using 1-2 fractions (7.5%), 3-4 fractions (17.4%), 5-6 fractions (38.5%), 7-9 fractions (33.5%), or 12 fractions (3%). Fraction sizes were <500 cGy (29.5%), 500-<600 (25.2%), 600 (28.1%), >600 (8%), or unknown (9.2%). For patients treated with HDR, the median total dose to Point A (corrected for fraction size using a alpha/beta = 10) was 85.8 Gy (range: 56.2-116.1 Gy). At institutions treating <500 new patients per year, the percentage of patients receiving a brachytherapy dose <40 Gy was significantly higher than at institutions treating > or =500 new patients per year (p < 0.0001). For LDR intracavitary radiation therapy, 5.8% had neither bladder nor rectal doses recorded for any of their implants, whereas in HDR intracavitary radiation therapy, 73.4% had neither bladder nor rectal doses recorded for any of their implants. The median total duration of radiation therapy was identical for patients who had HDR or LDR intracavitary radiation therapy (57 days). For LDR at institutions treating <500 new patients per year, the percentage of patients with treatment duration >56 days was significantly greater than at institutions > or =500 new patients per year (p = 0.002). Of the patients who had LDR intracavitary radiation therapy implants, 65% were treated using tandem and shielded Fletcher-Suit-Delclos colpostats; other patients had mini ovoids (10.9%), cylinders (3.9%), Henschke (3.7%), or other/mixed applicators (16.5%). In contrast, of patients treated with HDR intracavitary radiation therapy, 68.7% had tandem and rings, 18.2% Fletcher-Suit-Delclos ovoids, 7.5% mini ovoids, 2.3% cylinders, and 3.2% other or mixed applicators.The median duration of treatment and median Point A dose were very similar for patients treated with HDR or LDR. Patients with HDR were treated using a variety of treatment schedules. Different applicator types were favored for LDR vs. HDR. Of patients treated with HDR, 73.4% had no brachytherapy bladder or rectal doses recorded, suggesting that full dosimetric calculations were performed only for the first fraction in many institutions. Facility size significantly impacted on referral to another institution for brachytherapy, brachytherapy dose, and treatment duration.

Pub.: 16 Aug '05, Pinned: 23 Jun '17