Cancer Groundshot: Building a Robust Cancer Control Platform in Addition To Launching the Cancer Moonshot

Cancer Groundshot is a philosophy that calls for prioritization of strategies in global cancer control. The underlying principle of Cancer Groundshot is that one must ensure access to interventions that are already proven to work before focusing on the development of new interventions. In this article, we discuss the philosophy of Cancer Groundshot as it pertains to priorities in cancer care and research in low- and middle-income countries and the utility of technology in addressing global cancer disparities; we also address disparities seen in high-income countries. The oncology community needs to realign our priorities and focus on improving access to high-value cancer control strategies, rather than allocating resources primarily to the development of technologies that provide only marginal gains at a high cost. There are several “low-hanging fruit” actions that will improve access to quality cancer care in low- and middle-income countries and in high-income countries. Worldwide, cancer morbidity and mortality can be averted by implementing highly effective, low-cost interventions that are already known to work, rather than investing in the development of resource-intensive interventions to which most patients will not have access (i.e., we can use Cancer Groundshot to first save more lives before we focus on the “moonshots”).

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.

Cervical cancer therapies: Current challenges and future perspectives

Cervical cancer is the fourth most common female cancer worldwide and results in over 300 000 deaths globally. The causative agent of cervical cancer is persistent infection with high-risk subtypes of the human papillomavirus and the E5, E6 and E7 viral oncoproteins cooperate with host factors to induce and maintain the malignant phenotype. Cervical cancer is a largely preventable disease and early-stage detection is associated with significantly improved survival rates. Indeed, in high-income countries with established vaccination and screening programs it is a rare disease. However, the disease is a killer for women in low- and middle-income countries who, due to limited resources, often present with advanced and untreatable disease. Treatment options include surgical interventions, chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy either alone or in combination. This review describes the initiation and progression of cervical cancer and discusses in depth the advantages and challenges faced by current cervical cancer therapies, followed by a discussion of promising and efficacious new therapies to treat cervical cancer including immunotherapies, targeted therapies, combination therapies, and genetic treatment approaches.

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.

The role of telepathology in diagnosis of pre-malignant and malignant cervical lesions: Implementation at a tertiary hospital in Northern Tanzania

Adequate and timely access to pathology services is a key to scale up cancer control, however, there is an extremely shortage of pathologists in Tanzania. Telepathology (scanned images microscopy) has the potential to increase access to pathology services and it is increasingly being employed for primary diagnosis and consultation services. However, the experience with the use of telepathology in Tanzania is limited. We aimed to investigate the feasibility of using scanned images for primary diagnosis of pre-malignant and malignant cervical lesions by assessing its equivalency to conventional (glass slide) microscopy in Tanzania.

In this laboratory-based study, assessment of hematoxylin and eosin stained glass slides of 175 cervical biopsies were initially performed conventionally by three pathologists independently. The slides were scanned at x 40 and one to three months later, the scanned images were reviewed by the pathologists in blinded fashion. The agreement between initial and review diagnoses across participating pathologists was described and measured using Cohen’s kappa coefficient (κ).

The overall concordance of diagnoses established on conventional microscopy compared to scanned images across three pathologists was 87.7%; κ = 0.54; CI (0.49–0.57).The overall agreement of diagnoses established by local pathologist on conventional microscopy compared to scanned images was 87.4%; κ = 0.73; CI (0.65–0.79). The concordance of diagnoses established by senior pathologist compared to local pathologist on conventional microscopy and scanned images was 96% and 97.7% respectively. The inter-observer agreement (κ) value were 0.93, CI (0.87–1.00) and 0.94, CI (0.88–1.00) for conventional microscopy and scanned images respectively.

All κ coefficients expressed good intra- and inter-observer agreement, suggesting that telepathology is sufficiently accurate for primary diagnosis in surgical pathology. The discrepancies in interpretation of pre-malignant lesions highlights the importance of p16 immunohistochemistry in definitive diagnosis in these lesions. Sustainability factors including hardware and internet connectivity are essential components to be considered before telepathology may be deemed suitable for widely use in Tanzania.

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.

“My Body, My Rhythm, My Voice”: a community dance pilot intervention engaging breast cancer survivors in physical activity in a middle-income country

Background: Interventions to promote physical activity among women breast cancer survivors (BCS) in low to middle-income countries are limited. We assessed the acceptability and preliminary effectiveness of a theory-driven group dance intervention for BCS delivered in Bogotá, Colombia.

Methods: We conducted a quasi-experimental study employing a mixed-methods approach to assess the 8-week, 3 times/week group dance intervention. The effect of the intervention on participants’ physical activity levels (measured by accelerometry), motivation to engage in physical activity, and quality of life were evaluated using Generalized Estimating Equations analysis. The qualitative method included semi-structured interviews thematically analyzed to evaluate program acceptability.

Results: Sixty-four BCS were allocated to the intervention (N=31) or the control groups (N=33). In the intervention arm, 84% attended ≥60% of sessions. We found increases on average minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day (intervention: +8.99 vs control: -3.7 min; p = 0.01), and in ratings of motivation (intervention change score= 0.45, vs. control change score= -0.05; p = 0.01). BCS reported improvements in perceived behavioral capabilities to be active, captured through the interviews.

Conclusions: The high attendance, behavioral changes, and successful delivery indicate the potential effectiveness, feasibility, and scalability of the intervention for BCS in Colombia.

Trial registration: Clinical trials NCT05252780, registered on Dec 7th, 2021 – Retrospectively registered Unique protocol ID: P20CA217199-9492018.

Physicians’ Perceptions of and Satisfaction With Artificial Intelligence in Cancer Treatment: A Clinical Decision Support System Experience and Implications for Low-Middle–Income Countries

As technology continues to improve, health care systems have the opportunity to use a variety of innovative tools for decision-making, including artificial intelligence (AI) applications. However, there has been little research on the feasibility and efficacy of integrating AI systems into real-world clinical practice, especially from the perspectives of clinicians who use such tools. In this paper, we review physicians’ perceptions of and satisfaction with an AI tool, Watson for Oncology, which is used for the treatment of cancer. Watson for Oncology has been implemented in several different settings, including Brazil, China, India, South Korea, and Mexico. By focusing on the implementation of an AI-based clinical decision support system for oncology, we aim to demonstrate how AI can be both beneficial and challenging for cancer management globally and particularly for low-middle–income countries. By doing so, we hope to highlight the need for additional research on user experience and the unique social, cultural, and political barriers to the successful implementation of AI in low-middle–income countries for cancer care.

Randomized Controlled Trials in Lung, Gastrointestinal, and Breast Cancers: An Overview of Global Research Activity

Background: In this study, we compared and contrasted design characteristics, results, and publications of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in gastrointestinal (GI), lung, and breast cancer. Methods: A PUBMED search identified phase III RCTs of anticancer therapy in GI, lung, and breast cancer published globally during the period 2014–2017. Descriptive statistics, chi-square tests, and the Kruskal–Wallis test were used to compare RCT design, results, and output across the cancer sites. Results: A total of 352 RCTs were conducted on GI (36%), lung (29%), and breast (35%) cancer. Surrogate endpoints were used in 55% of trials; this was most common in breast trials (72%) compared to GI (47%) and lung trials (43%, p < 0.001). Breast trials more often met their primary endpoint (54%) than GI (41%) and lung trials (41%) (p = 0.024). When graded with the ESMO-MCBS, lung cancer trials (50%, 15/30) were more likely to meet the threshold for substantial benefit. GI trials were published in journals with a substantially lower impact factor (IF; median IF 13) than lung (median IF 21) and breast cancer trials (median IF 21) (p = 0.038). Conclusions: Important differences in RCT design and output exist between the three major cancer sites. Use of surrogate endpoints and the magnitude of benefit associated with new treatments vary substantially across cancer sites.