What is known?
Survival for children with cancer is far worse in low-income countries compared to high-income countries. This suggests that many childhood cancer deaths in places such as Africa are potentially preventable. However, the lack of accurate information on the extent of disease (or stage) for children with cancer in Africa is a barrier to developing plans to improve rates of survival.
What is new?
The study provides important information on the proportion of children who are diagnosed with more advanced cancers in three African countries. More than 80% of patients in the study were able to have stage at diagnosis assigned, based on a set of standard rules. Half (52%) presented with advanced disease, which is far higher than in a country like Australia. It was also found that for each of the three cancers examined (non-Hodgkin lymphoma, retinoblastoma or Wilms tumour) there was a large difference in survival depending on whether the patient had early or late-stage cancer.
What does this mean?
The results demonstrate that it is feasible to collect information on stage at diagnosis for children with cancer, even in places without a lot of resources. This is an important step in gaining a better understanding of the poor outcomes for childhood cancer in Africa and other similar regions of the world.
Contact: Danny Youlden
Reference: Parkin DM, Youlden DR, Chitsike I, Chokunonga E, Couitchéré L, Gnahatin F, Nambooze S, Wabinga H, Aitken JF. Stage at diagnosis and survival by stage for the leading childhood cancers in three populations of sub-Saharan Africa. International Journal of Cancer. 2021. doi: 10.1002/ijc.33468.