Alveolar soft part sarcoma (ASPS) is a very rare subtype, constituting less than 0.5% of malignant Soft tissue sarcoma. It is an orphan disease affecting adolescents and young adults, predominantly females. The rarity of the disease, with its indolent but relentless natural history and enigmatic line of differentiation, makes its diagnosis a challenge. Despite being a chemoresistant disease, it is known for prolonged survival even in a few metastatic patients with spontaneous disease stabilization and indolent disease behavior. Targeted therapy with antiangiogenic agents and immunotherapy is the way forward for this rare disease. In this review, we aim to give an overview of the approach to diagnosis and management of this orphan disease in 2022 in the Indian setting, which is widely applicable in other low-middle income countries (LMIC) as well.
Retrospective analysis: checkpoint inhibitor accessibility for thoracic and head and neck cancers and factors influencing it in a tertiary centre in India
Background: Access to cancer care is an issue in low and low middle-income countries. The problem is worse with respect to access to new therapies like checkpoint inhibitors. Hence, we decided to audit our practice in the head and neck and thoracic medical oncology unit from 2015 to 2019 to study the accessibility of checkpoint inhibitors and factors influencing it.
Methods: All patients who were registered in the head and neck and thoracic medical oncology unit between 2015 and 2019 were included in the study. Patients who received immunotherapy were identified from the prospective database of immunotherapy maintained by the department. We made a list of patients who were eligible for immunotherapy per year and identified how many of them received recommended immunotherapy. The indication for eligibility of immunotherapy was based on published pivotal data and it was applicable from the date of publication of the study online. Descriptive statistics were performed. For nominal and ordinal variable percentage with 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) was provided. Factors impacting the accessibility of immunotherapy were identified.
Findings: A total of 15,674 patients were identified who required immunotherapy; out of them only 444 (2.83%, 95% CI: 2.58–3.1) received it. Among head and neck cancer patients, 4.5% (156 out of 3,435) received immunotherapy versus 2.35% (288 out of 12,239) among thoracic cancer patients (p < 0.001). Among the general category (low socioeconomic), 0.29% (28 out of 9,405 ) versus 6.6% (416 out of 6,269) among the private category (high socioeconomic) received immunotherapy (p < 0.001). While 3.7% (361 out of 9,737) among males versus 1.39% (83 out of 5,937) females received immunotherapy (p < 0.001). There was also a temporal trend seen in the accessibility of immunotherapy (p < 0.001). Conclusion: The accessibility of immunotherapy is below 3% in India. Patients with head and neck cancers, those registered as private category and male patients had higher access to this therapy. There was also a temporal trend observed suggesting increased accessibility over the years.
Exploring the Use of Antibiotics for Dental Patients in a Middle-Income Country: Interviews with Clinicians in Two Ghanaian Hospitals
Background: Antimicrobial resistance is a global problem driven by the overuse of antibiotics. Dentists are responsible for about 10% of antibiotics usage across healthcare worldwide. Factors influencing dental antibiotic prescribing are numerous, with some differences in low- and middle-income countries compared with high-income countries. This study aimed to explore the antibiotic prescribing behaviour and knowledge of teams treating dental patients in two Ghanaian hospitals. Methods: Qualitative interviews were undertaken with dentists, pharmacists, and other healthcare team members at two hospitals in urban and rural locations. Thematic and behaviour analyses using the Actor, Action, Context, Target, Time framework were undertaken. Results: Knowledge about ‘antimicrobial resistance and antibiotic stewardship’ and ‘people and places’ were identified themes. Influences on dental prescribing decisions related to the organisational context (such as the hierarchical influence of colleagues and availability of specific antibiotics in the hospital setting), clinical issues (such as therapeutic versus prophylactic indications and availability of sterile dental instruments), and patient issues such as hygiene in the home environment, delays in seeking professional help, ability to access antibiotics in the community without a prescription and patient’s ability to pay for the complete prescription. Conclusions: This work provides new evidence on behavioural factors influencing dental antibiotic prescribing, including resource constraints which affect the availability of certain antibiotics and diagnostic tests. Further research is required to fully understand their influence and inform the development of new approaches to optimising antibiotic use by dentists in Ghana and potentially other low- and middle-income countries.
Association of social & psychological aspects of quality of life and educational level of patients with different orofacial cleft
Objective: To determine the social and psychological domains of quality of life of children with orofacial clefts in the context of different types of clefts and educational levels.
Method: The cross-sectional study was conducted at Clapp Hospital and Mayo Hospital, Lahore, Pakistan from September 1, 2020, to January 3, 2021, and comprised subjects of either gender aged 6-18 years having orofacial clefts. Data was collected using the CLEFT-Questionnaire along with a basic demographic sheet. Data was analysed using SPSS 23.
Results: Of the 80 subjects, 40(50%) each were males and females. The overall mean age was 12.41±3.39 years. A significant association of types of orofacial clefts with social function (p<0.05) and psychological function (p0.05) and psychological function (p>0.05) was noted.
Conclusion: Different types of orofacial clefts affected the psychological and social aspects of quality of life of patients differently, but the difference was not significantly correlated with the education level.
Effect of Delay of Care for Patients with Craniomaxillofacial Trauma in Rwanda
Craniomaxillofacial (CMF) trauma represents a significant proportion of global surgical disease burden, disproportionally affecting low- and middle-income countries where care is often delayed. We investigated risk factors for delays to care for patients with CMF trauma presenting to the highest-volume trauma hospital in Rwanda and the impact on complication rates.
This prospective cohort study comprised all patients with CMF trauma presenting to the University Teaching Hospital of Kigali, Rwanda, between June 1 and October 1, 2020.
Urban referral center in resource-limited setting.
Epidemiologic data were collected, and logistic regression analysis was undertaken to explore risk factors for delays in care and complications.
Fifty-four patients (94.4% men) met criteria for inclusion. The mean age was 30 years. A majority of patients presented from a rural setting (n = 34, 63%); the most common cause of trauma was motor vehicle accident (n = 18, 33%); and the most common injury was mandibular fracture (n = 28, 35%). An overall 78% of patients had delayed treatment of the fracture after arrival to the hospital, and 81% of these patients experienced a complication (n = 34, P = .03). Delay in treatment was associated with 4-times greater likelihood of complication (odds ratio, 4.25 [95% CI, 1.08-16.70]; P = .038).
Delay in treatment of CMF traumatic injuries correlates with higher rates of complications. Delays most commonly resulted from a lack of surgeon and/or operating room availability or were related to transfers from rural districts. Expansion of the CMF trauma surgical workforce, increased operative capacity, and coordinated transfer care efforts may improve trauma care.
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.
Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Patterns of Care and Outcome of Head and Neck Cancer: Real-World Experience From a Tertiary Care Cancer Center in India
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented health, social, and economic unrest globally, particularly affecting resource-limited low-middle–income countries. The resultant curfew had made the access to and delivery of cancer care services an arduous task. We have reported the patterns of care and 1-year outcome of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) treatment before and during COVID-19 lockdown at our institution.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Patients who underwent radiation therapy (RT) for nonmetastatic HNSCC between March 1, 2020, and July 31, 2020, were included in the COVID-RT group, and those who were treated between October 1, 2019, and February 29, 2020, were included in the preCOVID-RT group.
A total of 25 patients were in the COVID-RT group, and 51 patients were in the preCOVID-RT group. An increase in the incidence of locally advanced cancers across all subsites was observed in the COVID-RT group. There was a steep increase in the median overall RT treatment duration (52 v 44) and median break days during RT (10 v 2) in the COVID-RT group. The median follow-up period of all patients was 18 months. The progression-free survival at 1 year in the COVID-RT group and preCOVID-RT group was 84% and 90%, respectively (P = .08), and overall survival at 1 year was 86% and 96%, respectively (P = .06).
Our study elucidates the adverse impact of the COVID-19 curfew on cancer care and has demonstrated safe delivery of RT for HNSCC without major acute adverse effects. Despite a significant increase in treatment breaks, early outcome data also suggest that 1-year progression-free survival and overall survival are comparable with that of the pre–COVID-19 times; however, longer follow-up is warranted.
The management of head and neck cancer in Africa. What lessons can be learned from African literature?
There is a significant dearth of contextually relevant information related to the management of head and neck cancer (HNC) in Africa. The aim of this letter was to put forward the findings from our larger systematic review to describe the current management of HNC patients in Africa and to identify gaps and present potential solutions. Sixty-six articles were included and analysed with descriptive statistics, a narrative synthesis, and thematic analysis. Surgical resection remains the primary medical intervention in Africa, whilst chemotherapy and radiation services remain limited. There was no mention of multidisciplinary team input in the management of these patients, including no description of any rehabilitative treatments. There are significant resource shortages ranging from access to medical equipment to both skilled medical and rehabilitative staff. The findings from this study imply that the management of HNC in Africa requires a possible transdisciplinary approach to improve access to services. Health professionals also need to explore a community-based level approach to care to improve access. There needs to be more context-specific research to improve contextually relevant teaching and practice in HNC.
Adapting Elements of Cleft Care Protocols in Low- and Middle-income Countries During and After COVID-19: A Process-driven Review With Recommendations
A consortium of global cleft professionals, predominantly from low- and middle-income countries, identified adaptations to cleft care protocols during and after COVID-19 as a priority learning area of need.
A multidisciplinary international working group met on a videoconferencing platform in a multi-staged process to make consensus recommendations for adaptations to cleft protocols within resource-constrained settings. Feedback was sought from a roundtable discussion forum and global organizations involved in comprehensive cleft care.
Foundational principles were agreed to enable recommendations to be globally relevant and two areas of focus within the specified topic were identified. First the safety aspects of cleft surgery protocols were scrutinized and COVID-19 adaptations, specifically in the pre- and perioperative periods, were highlighted. Second, surgical procedures and cleft care services were prioritized according to their relationship to functional outcomes and time-sensitivity. The surgical procedures assigned the highest priority were emergent interventions for breathing and nutritional requirements and primary palatoplasty. The cleft care services assigned the highest priority were new-born assessments, pediatric support for children with syndromes, management of acute dental or auditory infections and speech pathology intervention.
A collaborative, interdisciplinary and international working group delivered consensus recommendations to assist with the provision of cleft care in low- and middle-income countries. At a time of global cleft care delays due to COVID-19, a united approach amongst global cleft care providers will be advantageous to advocate for children born with cleft lip and palate in resource-constrained settings.
Mobile Surgical Scouts Increase Surgical Access for Patients with Cleft Lip and Palate in Nepal
Background: In Nepal’s remote regions, challenging topography prevents patients with cleft lip and palate (CLP) from seeking care.
Objective: To measure the effect of a mobile surgical scout program on CLP surgical care in remote regions of Nepal.
Methods: Forty-four lay people were trained as mobile surgical scouts and over 5 months traversed remote districts of Nepal on foot to detect and refer CLP patients for surgical care. Surgical patients from remote districts were compared with matched time periods in the year before intervention. Diagnostic accuracy of the surgical scouts was assessed.
Findings: Mobile surgical scouts accurately diagnosed (90%) and referred (82%) patients for cleft surgery. Before the intervention, CLP surgeries from remote districts represented 3.5% of cleft surgeries performed. With mobile surgical scouting, patients from remote districts comprised 8.2% of all cleft surgeries (p = 0.007). When transportation and accompaniment was provided in addition to mobile surgical scouts, patients from remote districts represented 13.5% (p ≤ 0.001) of all cleft surgeries.
Conclusion: Task-shifting the surgical screening process to trained scouts resulted in accurate diagnoses, referrals, and increased access to cleft surgery in remote districts of Nepa