Delays to diagnosis and barriers to care for breast cancer in Mexico and Peru: a cross sectional study

Background
Delays to breast cancer diagnosis and treatment initiation are associated with worsened outcomes. However, population-based screening is impractical in many low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs) because of resource constraints and a lack of capacity to effectively diagnose and treat screen-detected disease. Mexico and Peru have similar mortality-to-incidence ratios for breast cancer. Unlike Peru, Mexico has attempted to implement mammography screening, although it remains opportunistic with low (20%) national coverage rates. The aim of this study was to compare delays and describe barriers to care among breast cancer patients in Mexico and Peru.

Methods
This international cross-sectional study included breast cancer patients interviewed at four public cancer hospitals in Mexico City between 2009 and 2011, and a federally-funded regional cancer institute in Trujillo, Peru in 2015. A Breast Cancer Delays Questionnaire, developed and validated in Mexico and modified for Peru, was administered to breast cancer patients during routine hospital visits at each location. Patient-related, diagnostic, and treatment delays were quantified, and barriers to care identified.

Findings
We included data from 597 Mexican women and 113 Peruvian women. Age at diagnosis did not differ between countries (53 years [Mexico] vs 54 years [Peru], p=0·266). Most women in both countries had breast cancer detected by symptoms (84% [Mexico] vs 93% [Peru]; p<0·001), although more women in Mexico were diagnosed by mammography screening (12% vs 6%) and screening clinical breast examination (4% vs 1%). Of patients with available stage information, the majority of disease was AJCC stage II or III at diagnosis (76% [n=597, Mexico] vs 91% [93, Peru]; p=0·014). More women in Mexico were diagnosed at an early stage (AJCC stage 0 or I) (14% [Mexico] vs 4% [Peru]). Total delay (symptom discovery or screening to initiation of treatment) did not differ between the two countries (median 210 days [IQR 128–415; n=597] Mexico vs 201 days [82–442; n=74] Peru; [p=0·71]). Diagnostic delay (first medical consultation to diagnosis) was the greatest contributor to overall delay (113 days [59–250; n=597, Mexico] vs 174 days [40–396; n=95, Peru]; p=0·105). Approximately 60% of all patients had diagnostic delays greater than 3 months. Less than half (44%) of Mexican patients visited more than two health-care facilities before the cancer centre, compared with 71% of Peruvian patients (p<0·001). Patients in both countries reported that barriers to prompt arrival at the cancer centre were: not knowing where to go, lack of money, spread out appointments, and diagnostic errors.

Interpretation
Improved diagnostic and referral systems are necessary to reduce delays to breast cancer care in Mexico and Peru. Such improvements are prerequisites to the establishment of maximally effective mammography screening programmes in LMICs.

Predictors of Survival After Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma in South America: The InterCHANGE Study

PURPOSE
Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) incidence is high in South America, where recent data on survival are sparse. We investigated the main predictors of HNSCC survival in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Colombia.

METHODS
Sociodemographic and lifestyle information was obtained from standardized interviews, and clinicopathologic data were extracted from medical records and pathologic reports. The Kaplan-Meier method and Cox regression were used for statistical analyses.

RESULTS
Of 1,463 patients, 378 had a larynx cancer (LC), 78 hypopharynx cancer (HC), 599 oral cavity cancer (OC), and 408 oropharynx cancer (OPC). Most patients (55.5%) were diagnosed with stage IV disease, ranging from 47.6% for LC to 70.8% for OPC. Three-year survival rates were 56.0% for LC, 54.7% for OC, 48.0% for OPC, and 37.8% for HC. In multivariable models, patients with stage IV disease had approximately 7.6 (LC/HC), 11.7 (OC), and 3.5 (OPC) times higher mortality than patients with stage I disease. Current and former drinkers with LC or HC had approximately 2 times higher mortality than never-drinkers. In addition, older age at diagnosis was independently associated with worse survival for all sites. In a subset analysis of 198 patients with OPC with available human papillomavirus (HPV) type 16 data, those with HPV-unrelated OPC had a significantly worse 3-year survival compared with those with HPV-related OPC (44.6% v 75.6%, respectively), corresponding to a 3.4 times higher mortality.

CONCLUSION
Late stage at diagnosis was the strongest predictor of lower HNSCC survival. Early cancer detection and reduction of harmful alcohol use are fundamental to decrease the high burden of HNSCC in South America.

Outcomes in the management of high-risk gestational trophoblastic neoplasia in trophoblastic disease centers in South America

Background: South America has a higher incidence of gestational trophoblastic disease than North America or Europe, but whether this impacts chemotherapy outcomes is unclear. The purpose of this study was to evaluate outcomes among women with high-risk gestational trophoblastic neoplasia (GTN) treated at trophoblastic disease centers in developing South American countries.

Methods: This retrospective cohort study included patients with high-risk GTN treated in three trophoblastic disease centers in South America (Botucatu and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Buenos Aires, Argentina) from January 1990 to December 2014. Data evaluated included demographics, clinical presentation, FIGO stage, WHO prognostic risk score, and treatment-related information. The primary treatment outcome was complete sustained remission by 18 months following completion of therapy or death.

Results: Among 1264 patients with GTN, 191 (15.1%) patients had high-risk GTN and 147 were eligible for the study. Complete sustained remission was ultimately achieved in 87.1% of cases overall, including 68.4% of ultra high-risk GTN (score ≥12). Early death (within 4 weeks of initiating therapy) was significantly associated with ultra high-risk GTN, occurring in 13.8% of these patients (p=0.003). By Cox’s proportional hazards regression, factors most strongly related to death were non-molar antecedent pregnancy (RR 4.35, 95% CI 1.71 to 11.05), presence of liver, brain, or kidney metastases (RR 4.99, 95% CI 1.96 to 12.71), FIGO stage (RR 3.14, 95% CI 1.52 to 6.53), and an ultra-high-risk prognostic risk score (RR 7.86, 95% CI 2.99 to 20.71). Median follow-up after completion of chemotherapy was 4 years. Among patients followed to that timepoint, the probability of survival was 90% for patients with high-risk GTN (score 7-11) and 60% for patients with ultra-high-risk GTN (score ≥12).

Conclusion: Trophoblastic disease centers in developing South American countries have achieved high remission rates in high-risk GTN, but early deaths remain an important problem, particularly in ultra-high-risk GTN.

Severe Acute Multi-Systemic Failure With Bilateral Ocular Toxoplasmosis in Immunocompetent Patients From Urban Settings in Colombia: Case Reports

Propose: To report two cases of severe acute multi-systemic failure with bilateral ocular toxoplasmosis in immunocompetent patients from urban settings in Colombia.

Observations: We report two immunocompetent male patients aged 44- and 67-years-old who, despite not having visited the Amazonian region in Colombia, had severe bilateral posterior uveitis and extensive-bilateral macular lesions and multiple organ failure that required admission to an intensive care unit. Toxoplasma gondii was positive by PCR assay in vitreous humor samples. Patients were treated with intravitreal clindamycin and dexamethasone in addition to systemic treatment with trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole. In both patients, infection by atypical strains was confirmed; in one case by serotyping and in another one by genotyping (ROP 18 virulent allele). After 2 and 4 months of treatment respectively, the patients showed improvement of the posterior uveitis and its systemic manifestations. However, there was no significant visual acuity improvement due to bilateral extensive macular involvement.

Conclusions and importance: Clinicians should be aware that toxoplasmosis originating from South America could be associated with severe acute multisystemic and intraocular bilateral involvement, even in patients with no history of exposure to jungle environments.

Cross-sectional study of surgical quality with a novel evidence-based tool for low-resource settings

Background Adverse events from surgical care are a major cause of death and disability, particularly in low-and-middle-income countries. Metrics for quality of surgical care developed in high-income settings are resource-intensive and inappropriate in most lower resource settings. The purpose of this study was to apply and assess the feasibility of a new tool to measure surgical quality in resource-constrained settings.

Methods This is a cross-sectional study of surgical quality using a novel evidence-based tool for quality measurement in low-resource settings. The tool was adapted for use at a tertiary hospital in Amazonas, Brazil resulting in 14 metrics of quality of care. Nine metrics were collected prospectively during a 4-week period, while five were collected retrospectively from the hospital administrative data and operating room logbooks.

Results 183 surgeries were observed, 125 patient questionnaires were administered and patient charts for 1 year were reviewed. All metrics were successfully collected. The study site met the proposed targets for timely process (7 hours from admission to surgery) and effective outcome (3% readmission rate). Other indicators results were equitable structure (1.1 median patient income to catchment population) and equitable outcome (2.5% at risk of catastrophic expenditure), safe outcome (2.6% perioperative mortality rate) and effective structure (fully qualified surgeon present 98% of cases).

Conclusion It is feasible to apply a novel surgical quality measurement tool in resource-limited settings. Prospective collection of all metrics integrated within existing hospital structures is recommended. Further applications of the tool will allow the metrics and targets to be refined and weighted to better guide surgical quality improvement measures.

The Trauma and Acute Care Surgeon in the COVID-19 Pandemic Era

The World Health Organization recognized in March 2020 the existence of a pandemic for the new coronavirus that appeared in China, in late 2019, and whose disease was named COVID-19. In this context, the SBAIT (Brazilian Society of Integrated Care for Traumatized Patients) conducted a survey with 219 trauma and emergency surgeons regarding the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the role of the surgeon in this pandemic by means of an electronic survey. It was observed that surgeons have been acting under inadequate conditions, with a lack of basic supplies as well as more specific equipment such as N95 masks and facial shields for the care of potential victims who may be contaminated. The latter increases the risk of contamination of professionals, resulting in potential losses in the working teams. Immediate measures must be taken to guarantee access to safety equipment throughout the country, since all trauma victims and/or patients with emergency surgical conditions must be treated as potential carriers of COVID-19.

Troponin I as a Mortality Marker After Lung Resection Surgery – A Prospective Cohort Study

Background
Cardiovascular complications associated with thoracic surgery increase morbidity, mortality, and treatment costs. Elevated cardiac troponin level represents a predictor of complications after non-cardiac surgeries, but its role after thoracic surgeries remains undetermined. The objective of this study was to analyze the relationship between troponin I elevation and morbidity and mortality after one year in patients undergoing lung resection surgery.
Methods
This prospective cohort study evaluated 151 consecutive patients subjected to elective lung resection procedures using conventional and video-assisted thoracoscopic techniques at a University Hospital in Brazil, from July 2012 to November 2015. Preoperative risk stratification was performed using the scores obtained by the American College of Physicians (ACP) and the Society of Cardiology of the state of São Paulo (EMAPO) scoring systems. Troponin I levels were measured in the immediate postoperative period (POi) and on the first and second postoperative days.
Results
Most patients had a low risk for complications according to the ACP (96.7%) and EMAPO (82.8%) scores. Approximately 49% of the patients exhibited increased troponin I (≥0.16 ng/ml), at least once, and 22 (14.6%) died in one year. Multivariate analysis showed that the elevation of troponin I, on the first postoperative day, correlated with a 12-fold increase in mortality risk within one year (HR 12.02, 95% CI: 1.82-79.5; p = 0.01).
Conclusions
In patients undergoing lung resection surgery, with a low risk of complications according to the preoperative evaluation scores, an increase in troponin I levels above 0.16 ng/ml in the first postoperative period correlated with an increase in mortality within one year.

The Hidden Risk of Ionizing Radiation in the Operating Room: A Survey Among 258 Orthopaedic Surgeons in Brazil

Background: This study aims to assess orthopaedic surgeon knowledge in Brazil about ionizing radiation and its health implications on surgical teams and patients.
Methods: A 15-question survey on theoretical and practical concepts of ionizing radiation was administered during the 23rd Brazilian Orthopaedic Trauma Association annual meeting. The survey addressed issues within orthopedic surgery, such as radiation safety concepts, protection, exposure, as well as the participant gender. Participants were either orthopedic surgeons or orthopedic surgery residents working at institutions in Brazil.
Results: One thousand surveys were distributed at the moment of the meeting registration, and 258 were answered completely (25.8% response rate). Only 5.8% of participants used basic radiation protection equipment; 47.3% used a dosimeter; 2.7% reached the annual maximum permissible radiation dose; 10.5% knew the period of increased risk to fetal gestation; 5.8% knew the maximum permissible radiation dose during pregnancy; 58.5% knew that the hands, eyes, and thyroid are the most exposed areas and at greater risk of radiation-related lesions; 25.2% knew the safe distance from a radiation-emitting tube is 3 m or more; 44.2% knew the safest positioning of the radiation-emitting tube; 25.2% knew that smaller tubes emit greater radiation at the entrance dose to magnify the image; and 55.4% knew that the surgery team receives more scattered radiation in surgical procedures performed on obese patients.
Conclusion: This study revealed inadequate theoretical and practical knowledge about radiation exposure among orthopaedic surgeons in Brazil. Only a minority of orthopaedic surgeons used basic radiation protection equipment. No significant differences in knowledge were found when comparing all orthopedic surgery specialties. Our findings indicate an urgent need for education to increase knowledge among orthopaedic surgeons about the hazards of ionizing radiation. Personal protection and implementation of the ALARA (as low as reasonably achievable) protocol in daily practice are important behaviors to prevent the harmful effects of ionizing radiation.

Cross-sectional study of surgical quality with a novel evidence-based tool for low-resource settings

Background: Adverse events from surgical care are a major cause of death and disability, particularly in low-and-middle-income countries. Metrics for quality of surgical care developed in high-income settings are resource-intensive and inappropriate in most lower resource settings. The purpose of this study was to apply and assess the feasibility of a new tool to measure surgical quality in resource-constrained settings.

Methods: This is a cross-sectional study of surgical quality using a novel evidence-based tool for quality measurement in low-resource settings. The tool was adapted for use at a tertiary hospital in Amazonas, Brazil resulting in 14 metrics of quality of care. Nine metrics were collected prospectively during a 4-week period, while five were collected retrospectively from the hospital administrative data and operating room logbooks.

Results; 183 surgeries were observed, 125 patient questionnaires were administered and patient charts for 1 year were reviewed. All metrics were successfully collected. The study site met the proposed targets for timely process (7 hours from admission to surgery) and effective outcome (3% readmission rate). Other indicators results were equitable structure (1.1 median patient income to catchment population) and equitable outcome (2.5% at risk of catastrophic expenditure), safe outcome (2.6% perioperative mortality rate) and effective structure (fully qualified surgeon present 98% of cases).

Conclusion: It is feasible to apply a novel surgical quality measurement tool in resource-limited settings. Prospective collection of all metrics integrated within existing hospital structures is recommended. Further applications of the tool will allow the metrics and targets to be refined and weighted to better guide surgical quality improvement measures.

Prediction of Early TBI Mortality Using a Machine Learning Approach in a LMIC Population

Background: In a time when the incidence of severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) is increasing in low- to middle-income countries (LMICs), it is important to understand the behavior of predictive variables in an LMIC’s population. There are few previous attempts to generate prediction models for TBI outcomes from local data in LMICs. Our study aim is to design and compare a series of predictive models for mortality on a new cohort in TBI patients in Brazil using Machine Learning.

Methods: A prospective registry was set in São Paulo, Brazil, enrolling all patients with a diagnosis of TBI that require admission to the intensive care unit. We evaluated the following predictors: gender, age, pupil reactivity at admission, Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), presence of hypoxia and hypotension, computed tomography findings, trauma severity score, and laboratory results.

Results: Overall mortality at 14 days was 22.8%. Models had a high prediction performance, with the best prediction for overall mortality achieved through Naive Bayes (area under the curve = 0.906). The most significant predictors were the GCS at admission and prehospital GCS, age, and pupil reaction. When predicting the length of stay at the intensive care unit, the Conditional Inference Tree model had the best performance (root mean square error = 1.011), with the most important variable across all models being the GCS at scene.

Conclusions: Models for early mortality and hospital length of stay using Machine Learning can achieve high performance when based on registry data even in LMICs. These models have the potential to inform treatment decisions and counsel family members.