The Effectiveness of Cancer Pain Management in a Tertiary Hospital Outpatient Pain Clinic in Thailand: A Prospective Observational Study

Context. In a previous retrospective study, cancer pain management was effective in 47.5% of a cohort assessed after 3 months in a pain clinic at Siriraj Hospital. New guidelines were established, including a multidisciplinary approach, availability of pain interventions, and palliative care referral. Objectives. The objective was to examine the effectiveness of the updated approach. Methods. With IRB approval, outpatients with cancer were enrolled from January to December 2018. Assessments were recorded at baseline and three consecutive visits (BL, FU1, FU2, and FU3), including Numerical Rating Scale (NRS), the Brief Pain Inventory (BPI), the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS), side effects, and analgesic use. The primary outcome was a favorable response, defined as an NRS decrease more than 30% or NRS <4. Secondary outcomes included trends over time in BPI, ESAS, side effects, and analgesic use. Pain response predictors at FU3 were analyzed using logistic regression. Results. Among 150 patients, 72 (48%) completed follow-ups. Of these, 61% achieved a favorable response at FU3. Pain interference diminished at all visits relative to baseline (). Median morphine equivalent daily dosage (MEDD) at BL was 20 mg/day, with a statistically significant, but clinically modest increase to 26.4 mg/day at FU3. Radiation therapy during pain care was a predictor of pain responders. Conclusion. The current Siriraj multidisciplinary approach provided effective relief of pain and stabilization of other cancer-related symptoms. Radiation therapy during pain care can be used to predict pain outcomes. Ongoing improvement domains were identified and considered in the context of cultural, economic, and geographic factors.

Understanding context: A qualitative analysis of the roles of family caregivers of people living with cancer in Vietnam and the implications for service development in low-income settings

Research on the needs of family caregivers of people living with cancer remains disproportionately focused in high income contexts. This research gap adds to the critical challenge on global equitable delivery of cancer care. This study describes the roles of family caregivers of people living with cancer in Vietnam and possible implications for intervention development.

Semi-structured interviews and focus groups with family caregivers (n = 20) and health care providers (n = 22) were conducted in two national oncology hospitals. Findings were verified via workshops with carers (n = 11) and health care professionals (n = 28) in five oncology hospitals representing different regions of Vietnam. Data was analyzed collaboratively by an international team of researchers according to thematic analysis.

Family caregivers in Vietnam provide an integral role in the delivery of inpatient cancer care. In the hospital environment families are responsible for multiple roles including feeding, hydration, changing, washing, moving, wound care and security of personal belongings. Central to this role is primary decision making in terms of treatment and end-of-life care; relaying information, providing nutritional, emotional and financial support. Families are forced to manage severe complications and health care needs with minimal health literacy and limited health care professional input.

Understanding context and the unique roles of family caregivers of people living with cancer is critical in the development of supportive services. As psycho-oncology develops in low and middle income contexts, it is essential that family caregiver roles are of significant importance.

Global Radiotherapy: Current Status and Future Directions—White Paper

Recognizing the increase in cancer incidence globally and the need for effective cancer control interventions, several organizations, professional bodies, and international institutions have proposed strategies to improve treatment options and reduce mortality along with minimizing overall incidence. Despite these efforts, an estimated 9.6 million deaths in 2018 was attributed to this noncommunicable disease, making it the second leading cause of death worldwide. Left unchecked, this will further increase in scale, with an estimated 29.5 million new cases and 16.3 million deaths occurring worldwide in 2040. Although it is known and generally accepted that cancer services must include radiotherapy, such access is still very limited in many parts of the world, especially in low- and middle-income countries. After thorough review of the current status of radiotherapy including programs worldwide, as well as achievements and challenges at the global level, the International Atomic Energy Agency convened an international group of experts representing various radiation oncology societies to take a closer look into the current status of radiotherapy and provide a road map for future directions in this field. It was concluded that the plethora of global and regional initiatives would benefit further from the existence of a central framework, including an easily accessible repository through which better coordination can be done. Supporting this framework, a practical inventory of competencies needs to be made available on a global level emphasizing the knowledge, skills, and behavior required for a safe, sustainable, and professional practice for various settings. This white paper presents the current status of global radiotherapy and future directions for the community. It forms the basis for an action plan to be developed with professional societies worldwide.

Burden of Cervical Cancer in the Eastern Mediterranean Region During the Years 2000 and 2017: Retrospective Data Analysis of the Global Burden of Disease Study

Cervical cancer is a growing health concern, especially in resource-limited settings.

The objective of this study was to assess the burden of cervical cancer mortality and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) in the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR) and globally between the years 2000 and 2017 by using a pooled data analysis approach.

We used an ecological approach at the country level. This included extracting data from publicly available databases and linking them together in the following 3 steps: (1) extraction of data from the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study in the years 2000 and 2017, (2) categorization of EMR countries according to the World Bank gross domestic product per capita, and (3) linking age-specific population data from the Population Statistics Division of the United Nations (20-29 years, 30-49 years, and >50 years) and GBD’s data with gross national income per capita and globally extracted data, including cervical cancer mortality and DALY numbers and rates per country. The cervical cancer mortality rate was provided by the GBD study using the following formula: number of cervical cancer deaths × 100,000/female population in the respective age group.

The absolute number of deaths due to cervical cancer increased from the year 2000 (n=6326) to the year 2017 (n=8537) in the EMR; however, the mortality rate due to this disease decreased from the year 2000 (2.7 per 100,000) to the year 2017 (2.5 per 100,000). According to age-specific data, the age group ≥50 years showed the highest mortality rate in both EMR countries and globally, and the age group of 20-29 years showed the lowest mortality rate both globally and in the EMR countries. Further, the rates of cervical cancer DALYs in the EMR were lower compared to the global rates (2.7 vs 6.8 in 2000 and 2.5 vs 6.8 in 2017 for mortality rate per 100,000; 95.8 vs 222.2 in 2000 and 86.3 vs 211.8 in 2017 for DALY rate per 100,000; respectively). However, the relative difference in the number of DALYs due to cervical cancer between the year 2000 and year 2017 in the EMR was higher than that reported globally (34.9 vs 24.0 for the number of deaths and 23.5 vs 18.1 for the number of DALYs, respectively).

We found an increase in the burden of cervical cancer in the EMR as per the data on the absolute number of deaths and DALYs. Further, we found that the health care system has an increased number of cases to deal with, despite the decrease in the absolute number of deaths and DALYs. Cervical cancer is preventable if human papilloma vaccination is taken and early screening is performed. Therefore, we recommend identifying effective vaccination programs and interventions to reduce the burden of this disease.

Cancer care delivery innovations, experiences and challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic: The Rwanda experience

Globally, cancer is the second leading cause of mortality. In 2018, 9.6 million lives were lost to cancer of which over 70% occurred in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) where limited access to cancer care and overwhelming late disease presentations negatively impact cancer related survival and quality of life [1]. Moreover, globally, new cancer cases are expected to increase from 18.1 million in 2018 to 21.4 million by 2030 [2]. In settings of poor health care systems and impoverished communities, the scarcity of and limited access to diagnostic and treatment modalities negatively impacts health outcomes and undermines achievement of the universal health care coverage (UHC) targets.

Over the past 20 years, Rwanda has recorded gains in key health indicators including increased life expectancy (from 48.6 in 2000 to 67.4 in 2015); declines in maternal mortality (from 1071 in 2000 to 210 per 100 000 live births in 2015) [3]. Concurrently, impressive gains were registered in the control of infectious diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis and malaria [3]. However, little gains have been recorded for the management of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) where age-standardized NCD mortality rates slightly decreased from 894.9 to 548.6 deaths per 100 000 people from 2000 to 2016 [4,5]. Anecdotally, plausible hindrances to the prevention and control of NCDs in Rwanda include low community awareness, lack of trained providers, limited access to diagnostic services and treatment capacity for complicated cases

Is Independent Clinical Research Possible in Low- and Middle-Income Countries? A Roadmap to Address Persistent and New Barriers and Challenges

Cancer is an increasing and significant problem for both high- and low- and middle-income countries. Basic, translational, and clinical research efforts have been instrumental in generating the outstanding improvements we have witnessed over the last few decades, answering important questions, and improving patient outcomes. Arguably, a substantial portion of currently ongoing research is sponsored by the pharmaceutical industy and specifically addresses questions under industry interests, most of which apply to high-income countries, leaving behind problems related to the much larger and underserved population of patients with cancer in low- and middle-income countries. In this scenario, discussing independent academic research is an important challenge, particularly for these countries. Although different countries and institutions face different problems while establishing independent research agendas, some generalizable barriers can be identified. A solid regulatory and ethical framework, a strong and sustainable technical supporting infrastructure, and motivated and experienced investigators are all paramount to build a viable and productive academic research program. Securing funding for research, although not the only hurdle, is certainly one of the most basic hurdles to overcome. Noticeably, and as an added impediment, public and governmental support for cancer research has been decreasing in high-income countries and is almost nonexistent in the rest of the world. We propose an initial careful diagnostic assessment of the research resource scenario of each institution/country and adjustment of the strategic development plan according to four different research resource restriction levels. Although not necessarily applicable to all situations, this model can be helpful if adjusted to each local or regional situation

Epidemiologic Pattern of Cancer in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal: Findings of Population-Based Cancer Registry, 2018

Although cancer is an important and growing public health issue in Nepal, the country lacked any population-based cancer registry (PBCR) until 2018. In this study, we describe the establishment of the PBCR for the first time in Nepal and use the registry data to understand incidence, mortality, and patterns of cancer in the Kathmandu Valley (consisting of Kathmandu, Lalitpur, and Bhaktapur districts), which comprises 10.5% of the estimated 29 million population of Nepal in 2018.

The PBCR collects information from facilities and communities through the active process. The facilities include cancer or general hospitals, pathology laboratories, hospice, and Ayurvedic centers. In the communities, the field enumerators or female community health volunteers collected the data from the households. In addition, the Social Security and Nursing Division under the Department of Health Services, which provides subsidy for cancer treatment of underprivileged patients, was another major source of data. The collected data were verified for residence, accuracy, and completeness and then entered and analyzed using CanReg5 software.

In the Kathmandu Valley, the PBCR registered 2,156 new cancer cases with overall age-adjusted incidence rate for all cancers of 95.7 per 100,000 population (95.3 for males and 98.1 for females). The age-adjusted mortality rate for males was 36.3 (n = 365) and for females 27.0 (n = 305) per 100,000 population. We found that the commonest cancers in males were lung and stomach, whereas in females, they were breast and lung cancer. Gallbladder cancer was among the top five common cancers in both sex.

These findings provide a milestone to understand the cancer burden in the country for the first time using the PBCR and will be helpful to develop and prioritize cancer control strategies.

Primary care and pulmonary physicians’ knowledge and practice concerning screening for lung cancer in Lebanon, a middle‐income country

Screening for lung cancer with low‐dose computed tomography (LDCT) was shown to reduce lung cancer incidence and overall mortality, and it has been recently included in international guidelines. Despite the rising burden of lung cancer in low and middle‐income countries (LMICs) such as Lebanon, little is known about what primary care physicians or pulmonologists know and think about LDCT as a screening procedure for lung cancer, and if they recommend it.

Evaluate the knowledge about LDCT and implementation of international guidelines for lung cancer screening among Lebanese primary care physicians (PCPs) and pulmonary specialists.

PCPs and PUs based in Lebanon were surveyed concerning knowledge and practices related to lung cancer screening by self‐administered paper questionnaires.

73.8% of PCPs and 60.7% of pulmonary specialists recognized LDCT as an effective tool for lung cancer screening, with 63.6% of PCPs and 71% of pulmonary specialists having used it for screening. However, only 23.4% of PCPs and 14.5% of pulmonary specialists recognized the eligibility criteria for screening. Chest X‐ray was recognized as ineffective by only 55.8% of PCPs and 40.7% of pulmonary specialists; indeed, 30.2% of PCPs and 46% of pulmonary specialists continue using it for screening. The majority have initiated a discussion about the risks and benefits of lung cancer screening.

PCPs and pulmonary specialists are initiating discussions and ordering LDCT for lung cancer screening. However, a significant proportion of both specialties are still using a non‐recommended screening tool (chest x‐ray); only few PCPs and pulmonary specialists recognized the population at risk for which screening is recommended. Targeted provider education is needed to close the knowledge gap and promote proper implementation of guidelines for lung cancer screening.

The Out-of-Pocket Cost Burden of Cancer Care—A Systematic Literature Review

Background: Out-of-pocket costs pose a substantial economic burden to cancer patients and their families. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the literature on out-of-pocket costs of cancer care. Methods: A systematic literature review was conducted to identify studies that estimated the out-of-pocket cost burden faced by cancer patients and their caregivers. The average monthly out-of-pocket costs per patient were reported/estimated and converted to 2018 USD. Costs were reported as medical and non-medical costs and were reported across countries or country income levels by cancer site, where possible, and category. The out-of-pocket burden was estimated as the average proportion of income spent as non-reimbursable costs. Results: Among all cancers, adult patients and caregivers in the U.S. spent between USD 180 and USD 2600 per month, compared to USD 15–400 in Canada, USD 4–609 in Western Europe, and USD 58–438 in Australia. Patients with breast or colorectal cancer spent around USD 200 per month, while pediatric cancer patients spent USD 800. Patients spent USD 288 per month on cancer medications in the U.S. and USD 40 in other high-income countries (HICs). The average costs for medical consultations and in-hospital care were estimated between USD 40–71 in HICs. Cancer patients and caregivers spent 42% and 16% of their annual income on out-of-pocket expenses in low- and middle-income countries and HICs, respectively. Conclusions: We found evidence that cancer is associated with high out-of-pocket costs. Healthcare systems have an opportunity to improve the coverage of medical and non-medical costs for cancer patients to help alleviate this burden and ensure equitable access to car

Financial toxicity of cancer care in low and middle-income countries: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Introduction: The costs associated with cancer diagnosis, treatment and care present enormous financial toxicity. However, evidence of financial toxicity associated with cancer in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) is scarce.

Aim: To identify the extent of cancer-related financial toxicity and how it has been measured in LMICs.

Methods: Four electronic databases were searched to identify studies of any design that reported financial toxicity among cancer patients in LMICs. Random-effects meta-analysis was used to derive the pooled prevalence of financial toxicity. Sub-group analyses were performed according to: costs; and determinants of financial toxicity.

Results: A total of 31 studies were included in this systematic review and meta-analysis. The pooled prevalence of financial toxicity was 56.96% [95% CI, 30.51, 106.32]. In sub-group meta-analyses, the financial toxicity was higher among cancer patients with household size of more than four (1.17% [95% CI, 1.03, 1.32]; p = 0.02; I2 = 0%), multiple cycles of chemotherapy (1.94% [95% CI, 1.00, 3.75]; p = 0.05; I2 = 43%) and private health facilities (2.87% [95% CI, 1.89, 4.35]; p < 0.00001; I2 = 26%). Mean medical costs per cancer patients were $2,740.18 [95% CI, $1,953.62, $3,526.74]. The ratio of cost of care to gross domestic product (GDP) per capita varied considerably across the LMICs included in this review, which ranged from 0.06 in Vietnam to 327.65 in Ethiopia.

Conclusions: This study indicates that cancer diagnosis, treatment and care impose high financial toxicity on cancer patients in LMICs. Further rigorous research on cancer-related financial toxicity is needed.