Challenges and opportunities for breast cancer early detection among rural dwelling women in Segamat District, Malaysia: A qualitative study

Breast cancer patients in low- and middle-income countries often present at an advanced stage. This qualitative study elicited views regarding the challenges and opportunities for breast cancer screening and early detection among women in a low-income semi-rural community in Segamat district, Malaysia.

Individual semi-structured interviews with 22 people (health professionals, cancer survivors, community volunteers and member from a non-governmental organization) and four focus group discussions (n = 22 participants) with women from a local community were conducted. All participants were purposively sampled and female residents registered with the South East Asia Community Observatory aged ≥40 years were eligible to participate in the focus group discussions. Data were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using thematic analysis.

The thematic analysis illuminated barriers, challenges and opportunities across six domains: (i) personal experiences and barriers to help-seeking as well as financial and travel access barriers; (ii) primary care challenges (related to delivering clinical breast examination and teaching breast-self-examination); (iii) secondary care challenges (related to mammogram services); (iv) disconnection between secondary and primary care breast cancer screening pathways; and (v) opportunities to improve breast cancer early detection relating to community civil service society activities (i.e. awareness raising, support groups, addressing stigma/embarrassment and encouraging husbands to support women) and vi) links between public healthcare personnel and community (i.e. improving breast self-examination education, clinical breast examination provision and subsidised mammograms).

The results point to a variety of reasons for low uptake and, therefore, to the complex nature of improving breast cancer screening and early detection. There is a need to adopt a systems approach to address this complexity and to take account of the socio-cultural context of communities in order, in turn, to strengthen cancer control policy and practices in Malaysia.

Awareness of colorectal cancer signs and symptoms: a national cross-sectional study from Palestine

Background: In low-resource settings, the awareness level of colorectal cancer (CRC) signs and symptoms plays a crucial role in early detection and treatment. This study examined the public awareness level of CRC signs and symp‑ toms in Palestine and investigated the factors associated with good awareness.
Methods: This was a national cross-sectional study conducted at hospitals, primary healthcare centers, and public spaces in 11 governorates across Palestine between July 2019 and March 2020. A translated-into-Arabic version of the validated bowel cancer awareness measure (BoCAM) was utilized to assess the awareness level of CRC signs and symptoms. For each correctly identifed CRC sign/symptom, one point was given. The total score (ranging from 0 to12) was calculated and categorized into three categories based on the number of symptoms recognized: poor (0 to 4), fair (5 to 8), and good awareness (9 to 12).
Results: Of 5254 approached, 4877 participants completed the questionnaire (response rate=92.3%). A total of 4623 questionnaires were included in the analysis; 1923 were from the Gaza Strip and 2700 from the West Bank and Jerusalem (WBJ). Participants from the Gaza Strip were younger, gained lower monthly income, and had less chronic diseases than participants in the WBJ The most frequently identifed CRC sign/symptom was ‘lump in the abdomen’ while the least was ‘pain in the back passage’. Only 1849 participants (40.0%, 95% CI: 39.0%-41.0%) had a good awareness level of CRC signs/symptoms. Participants living in the WBJ were more likely to have good awareness than participants living in the Gaza Strip (42.2% vs. 37.0%; p=0.002). Knowing someone with cancer (OR=1.37, 95% CI: 1.21–1.55; p<0.001) and visiting hos‑ pitals (OR=1.46, 95% CI: 1.25–1.70; p<0.001) were both associated with higher likelihood of having good awareness. However, male gender (OR=0.80, 95% CI: 0.68–0.94; p=0.006) and following a vegetarian diet (OR=0.59, 95% CI: 0.48–0.73; p<0.001) were both associated with lower likelihood of having good awareness.
Conclusion: Less than half of the study participants had a good awareness level of CRC signs and symptoms. Future education interventions are needed to improve public awareness of CRC in Palestin

Factors Affecting Survival in Nontraumatic Pediatric Abdominal Surgical Emergencies: A Contemporary Review

Surgically curable illnesses in the pediatric population are a major public health issue with a high prevalence of 10%-33% of all pediatric admissions, and emergency situations account for 50%-78% of surgical cases. Emergency abdominal surgery in children necessitates proper and prompt surgical and perioperative supportive care. When compared to elective operations, emergency surgery has a greater rate of morbidity and fatality. Staffing concerns, access to operating theaters, and access to diagnostic investigations are all possible causes of this high fatality rate, in addition to patient-related factors. Literature from high-income countries (HICs) discusses the problem, and recommendations are available for high-quality setups with good infrastructure. However, surgical care facilities from resource-poor countries have altogether different challenges and bottlenecks when dealing with children requiring emergency surgical operative procedures to save lives. This review aims to discuss factors affecting the survival of children being operated on for abdominal emergencies in resource-poor setups and suggest recommendations.

Clinical profile, outcomes and predictors of mortality in neonates operated for gastrointestinal anomalies in a tertiary neonatal care unit- An observational study

Background: Gastrointestinal (GI) malformations have varied short-term and long-term outcomes reported across various neonatal units in India.
Methods: This descriptive study was done to study the clinical profile, outcomes and predictors of mortality in neonates operated for congenital GI malformations in a tertiary neonatal care unit in South India between years 2011 and 2020. Details were collected by retrospective review of the case sheets.
Results: Total of 68 neonates were included with esophageal atresia (EA) in 10, infantile hypertrophic pyloric stenosis (IHPS) in 9, duodenal atresia (DA) in 10, ileal atresia in 8, jejunal atresia in 5, anorectal malformations (ARM) in 11, meconium ileus/peritonitis in 9, malrotation in 2, and Hirschsprung’s disease (HD) in 4. Antenatal diagnosis was highest in DA (80%). Associated anomalies were maximum in EA (50%), the most common being vertebral, anal atresia, cardiac defects, tracheoesophageal fistula, renal and radial abnormalities, and limb abnormalities association (VACTERL). Overall mortality was 15%. IHPS, DA, Malrotation, HD and ARM had 100 % survival while ileal atresia had the least survival (38%). Gestational age <32 weeks (odds ratio [OR] 12.77 [1.96, 82.89]) and outborn babies (OR 5.55 [1.01, 30.33]) were significant predictors of mortality in babies operated for small intestinal anomalies. None of the surviving infants were moderately or severely underweight at follow-up.
Conclusion: Overall survival of surgically correctable GI anomalies is good. Among the predictors for mortality, modifiable factors such as in-utero referral of antenatally diagnosed congenital anomalies need attention. One-fifth had associated anomalies highlighting the need to actively look for the same. Although these neonates are vulnerable for growth failure, they had optimal growth on follow-up possibly due to standardized total parenteral nutritional policy during neonatal intensive care unit stay.

Safe and Standard Thyroid Cancer Surgery, or Lack Thereof: Patterns and Correlates of Patient Referral to Tertiary Care Centre for Revision Thyroid Surgery in a LMIC

Background A surgeon’s characteristics such as volume and practice setup are essential elements in outcome of thyroid cancer. However, little information is available from the developing world regarding qualities of primary surgeon, such as level of knowledge, skill, and proper documentation while referring to higher center.

Methods Records of 164 patients of differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) from January 1990 to December 2018 undergoing revision thyroid surgery following primary surgery elsewhere were retrospectively analyzed.

Results Out of 164 patients with postoperative diagnosis of DTC, referral patterns were as follows: low volume (LV) to high volume (HV) (n = 120, 73.2%), followed by HV to HV (n = 44, 26.8%). The primary surgery assessed by the extent of residual disease was in agreement with the documentation in only 55%. The type of thyroidectomy performed was not mentioned in 9.8%. The status of the parathyroid glands was mentioned only in 15.8% and recurrent laryngeal nerve in 12.2%. Less than recommended surgery was performed in 52.5% patients. Despite less than recommended surgery, 44.5% patients were directly referred for radioactive iodine ablation (RAIA). Thirty two percent patients were referred for RAIA after hemithyroidectomy. Central or lateral compartment lymphadenectomy, even after indication, was less likely at LV centers (risk ratio [RR], 0.71; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.64–0.77). Similarly, for DTC patients, the relationship between LV center surgery and subsequent referral for RAIA was RR, 0.71 (95% CI, 0.48–1.02).

Conclusions Most patients referred from LV surgeons are less likely to have proper thyroidectomy, have inadequate documentation of the primary surgery, and are referred for RAIA after less than total thyroidectomy. Our study highlights the lacunae in the approach to and understanding of thyroid cancer surgery by secondary care physicians in our country. We believe that there is an urgent necessity of educational reform and training to rectify this problem.

Burden and trend of colorectal cancer in 54 countries of Africa 2010–2019: a systematic examination for Global Burden of Disease

Colorectal cancer plays significant role in morbidity, mortality and economic cost in Africa.

To investigate the burden and trends of incidence, mortality, and disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) of colorectal cancer in Africa from 2010 to 2019.

This study was conducted according to Global Burden of Disease (GBD) 2019 analytic and modeling strategies. The recent GBD 2019 study provided the most updated and compressive epidemiological evidence of cancer incidence, mortality, years lived with disability (YLDs), years of life lost (YLLs), and DALYs.

In 2019, there were 58,000 (95% UI: 52,000–65,000), 49,000 (95% UI: 43,000–54,000), and 1.3 million (95% UI: 1.14–1.46) incident cases, deaths and DALYs counts of colorectal cancer respectively in Africa. Between 2010 and 2019, incidence cases, death, and DALY counts of CRC were significantly increased by 48% (95% UI: 34–62%), 41% (95% UI: 28–55%), and 41% (95% UI: 27–56%) respectively. Change of age-standardised rates of incidence, death and DALYs were increased by 11% (95% UI: 1–21%), 6% (95% UI: − 3 to 16%), and 6% (95% UI: − 5 to 16%) respectively from 2010 to 2019. There were marked variations of burden of colorectal cancer at national level from 2010 to 2019 in Africa.

Increased age-standardised death rate and DALYs of colorectal cancer indicates low progress in CRC standard care-diagnosis and treatment, primary prevention of modifiable risk factors and implementation of secondary prevention modality. This serious effect would be due to poor cancer infrastructure and policy, low workforce capacity, cancer center for diagnosis and treatment, low finical security and low of universal health coverage in Africa.

Disadvantaged Subgroups Within the Global Head and Neck Cancer Population: How Can We Optimize Care?

Within the global head and neck cancer population, there are subgroups of patients with poorer cancer outcomes independent from tumor characteristics. In this article, we review three such groups. The first group comprises patients with nasopharyngeal cancer in low- and middle-income countries where access to high-volume, well-resourced radiotherapy centers is limited. We discuss a recent study that is aiming to improve outcomes through the instigation of a comprehensive radiotherapy quality assurance program. The second group comprises patients with low socioeconomic status in a high-income country who experience substantial financial toxicity, defined as financial hardship for patients due to health care costs. We review causes and consequences of financial toxicity and discuss how it can be mitigated. The third group comprises older patients who may poorly tolerate and not benefit from intensive standard-of-care treatment. We discuss the role of geriatric assessment, particularly in relation to the use of chemotherapy. Through better recognition and understanding of disadvantaged groups within the global head and neck cancer population, we will be better placed to instigate the necessary changes to improve outcomes and quality of life for patients with head and neck cancer.

Gaps in completion and timeliness of breast surgery and adjuvant therapy: a retrospective cohort of Haitian patients with nonmetastatic breast cancer

There are limited data on breast surgery completion rates and prevalence of care-continuum delays in breast cancer treatment programs in low-income countries.

This study analyzes treatment data in a retrospective cohort of 312 female patients with non-metastatic breast cancer in Haiti. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize patient characteristics; treatments received; and treatment delays of > 12 weeks. Multivariate logistic regressions were performed to identify factors associated with receiving surgery and with treatment delays. Exploratory multivariate survival analysis examined the association between surgery delays and disease-free survival (DFS).

Of 312 patients, 249 (80%) completed breast surgery. The odds ratio (OR) for surgery completion for urban vs. rural dwellers was 2.15 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.19–3.88) and for those with locally advanced vs. early-stage disease was 0.34 (95%CI: 0.16–0.73). Among the 223 patients with evaluable surgery completion timelines, 96 (43%) experienced delays. Of the 221 patients eligible for adjuvant chemotherapy, 141 (64%) received adjuvant chemotherapy, 66 of whom (47%) experienced delays in chemotherapy initiation. Presentation in the later years of the cohort (2015–2016) was associated with lower rates of surgery completion (75% vs. 85%) and with delays in adjuvant chemotherapy initiation (OR [95%CI]: 3.25 [1.50–7.06]). Exploratory analysis revealed no association between surgical delays and DFS.

While majority of patients obtained curative-intent surgery, nearly half experienced delays in surgery and adjuvant chemotherapy initiation. Although our study was not powered to identify an association between surgical delays and DFS, these delays may negatively impact long-term outcomes.

Lower limb amputations among individuals living with diabetes mellitus in low- and middle-income countries: A systematic review protocol

The burden of diabetes mellitus (DM) and its associated complications continue to burgeon, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Lower limb amputation (LLA) is one of the most life-altering complications of DM, associated with significant morbidity, mortality and socio-economic impacts. High-income countries have reported a decreasing incidence of DM-associated LLA, but the situation in many LMICs is unknown. We aim to conduct a systematic review to determine the incidence and prevalence of DM-associated LLA in LMICs to better inform appropriate interventions and health system response.

Methods and analysis
A systematic search of the literature will be conducted on five databases: MEDLINE, Embase, Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), Scopus and African Journal Online (AJOL). Only observational, quantitative studies reporting the incidence and/or prevalence of DM-related LLA will be considered. A validated study design-specific critical appraisal tool will be used to assess the risk of bias in individual studies. We will determine the incidence of LLA by examining the number of new cases of LLA among individuals with confirmed DM diagnosis during the specified period, while the prevalence will be based on the total number of all new and existing LLAs in a population. LLA will be considered as the resection of the lower limb from just above the knee to any point down to the toe. If heterogeneity is low to moderate, a random-effects meta-analysis will be conducted on extracted crude prevalence/incidence rates, with the median and interquartile range also reported. The systematic review will be performed in accordance with the JBI guideline for prevalence and incidence review. Study reporting will follow the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guideline.

Prospero registration number

The environment under the knife: A review of current Eco-surgical strategies and recommendations for Pakistan

The healthcare sector at its core is based on the fundamentals belief to do no harm and bring about betterment in the lives of the people. Paradoxically, hospitals are one of the leading contributors to pollution, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and toxic waste material worldwide. Surgical care delivery is quite resource intensive, consuming significant amount of energy and equipment as well as producing large quantities of waste. With climate change being a global priority, it is crucial that hospitals re-evaluate the environmental impact of such practices. The current review was planned to identify areas of improvement in surgical care in terms of sustainability, as well as describe efficient and innovative strategies for hospitals in Pakistan to lessen their impact
on the environment.