Organized breast cancer screening not only reduces mortality from breast cancer but also significantly decreases disability-adjusted life years: analysis of the Global Burden of Disease Study and screening programme availability in 130 countries

Multiple studies over the past 4 decades have shown the significant benefit of breast cancer screening (BCS) in reducing mortality rates from breast cancer (BC). However, significant debate exists about the role of BCS in this regard, with some studies also showing no benefit in terms of mortality along with issues such as overdiagnosis, health care utilisation costs, psychological distress or overtreatment. To date, no BCS study has focused on disability. Hence the aim of this study is to evaluate the relative contribution of BCS approaches to age-standardized mortality and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) rates along with other related risk factors, from a country-level perspective.

Patients and methods
This study created a country-dataset by merging information from the Global Burden of Disease study regarding female age-standardized BC mortality, DALYs rates and other risk factors with the BCS programme availability at the national or regional level (versus no or only pilot such programme), BCS type (mammography, digital screening, breast self-examination and clinical breast examination) and other BCS-related information among 130 countries. Mixed-effect multilevel regression models were run to examine the associations of interest.

The most important factor predictive of lower mortality was the more advanced type of BCS programme availability [mammography: −4.16, 95% CI −6.76 to −1.55; digital mammography/ultrasound: −3.64, 95% CI −6.59 to −0.70] when compared with self- or clinical breast examinations. High levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-c) and smoking were also related to higher mortality and DALYs from BC. In terms of BC DALYs, BCS had a 21.9 to 22.3-fold increase in the magnitude of effect compared with that in terms of mortality. Data on mortality and DALYs in relation to BCS programmes were also calculated for high-, middle- and low-income countries.

These data further support the positive effects of BCS in relation to age-standardized BC mortality rates, and for the first time show the impact of BCS on DALYs too. Additional factors, such as diabetes, high levels of LDL-c or smoking seemed to be related to BC mortality and disability, and could be considered as additional components of possible interventions to be used alongside BCS to optimize the BCS benefit on patients.

Association between vision impairment and mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis

The number of individuals with vision impairment worldwide is increasing because of an ageing population. We aimed to systematically identify studies describing the association between vision impairment and mortality, and to assess the association between vision impairment and all-cause mortality.

For this systematic review and meta-analysis, we searched MEDLINE (Ovid), Embase, and Global Health database on Feb 1, 2020, for studies published in English between database inception and Feb 1, 2020. We included prospective and retrospective cohort studies that measured the association between vision impairment and all-cause mortality in people aged 40 years or older who were followed up for 1 year or more. In a protocol amendment, we also included randomised controlled trials that met the same criteria as for cohort studies, in which the association between visual impairment and mortality was independent of the study intervention. Studies that did not report age-adjusted mortality data, or that focused only on populations with specific health conditions were excluded. Two reviewers independently assessed study eligibility, extracted the data, and assessed risk of bias. We graded the overall certainty of the evidence using the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluations framework. We did a random-effects meta-analysis to calculate pooled maximally adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) for all-cause mortality for individuals with a visual acuity of <6/12 versus those with ≥6/12; <6/18 versus those with ≥6/18; <6/60 versus those with ≥6/18; and <6/60 versus those with ≥6/60.

Our searches identified 3845 articles, of which 28 studies, representing 30 cohorts (446 088 participants) from 12 countries, were included in the systematic review. The meta-analysis included 17 studies, representing 18 cohorts (47 998 participants). There was variability in the methods used to assess and report vision impairment. Pooled HRs for all-cause mortality were 1·29 (95% CI 1·20–1·39) for visual acuity <6/12 versus ≥6/12, with low heterogeneity between studies (n=15; τ2=0·01, I2=31·46%); 1·43 (1·22–1·68) for visual acuity <6/18 versus ≥6/18, with low heterogeneity between studies (n=2; τ2=0·0, I2=0·0%); 1·89 (1·45–2·47) for visual acuity <6/60 versus ≥6/18 (n=1); and 1·02 (0·79–1·32) for visual acuity <6/60 versus ≥6/60 (n=2; τ2=0·02, I2=25·04%). Three studies received an assessment of low risk of bias across all six domains, and six studies had a high risk of bias in one or more domains. Effect sizes were greater for studies that used best-corrected visual acuity compared with those that used presenting visual acuity as the vision assessment method (p=0·0055), but the effect sizes did not vary in terms of risk of bias, study design, or participant-level factors (ie, age). We judged the evidence to be of moderate certainty.

The hazard for all-cause mortality was higher in people with vision impairment compared with those that had normal vision or mild vision impairment, and the magnitude of this effect increased with more severe vision impairment. These findings have implications for promoting healthy longevity and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Wellcome Trust, Commonwealth Scholarship Commission, National Institutes of Health, Research to Prevent Blindness, the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, Moorfields Eye Charity, National Institute for Health Research, Moorfields Biomedical Research Centre, Sightsavers, the Fred Hollows Foundation, the Seva Foundation, the British Council for the Prevention of Blindness, and Christian Blind Mission.

Global prevalence of traumatic non-fatal limb amputation

Reliable information on both global need for prosthetic services and the current prosthetist workforce is limited. Global burden of disease estimates can provide valuable insight into amputation prevalence due to traumatic causes and global prosthetists needed to treat traumatic amputations.

This study was conducted to quantify and interpret patterns in global distribution and prevalence of traumatic limb amputation by cause, region, and age within the context of prosthetic rehabilitation, prosthetist need, and prosthetist education.

Study design:
A secondary database descriptive study.

Amputation prevalence and prevalence rate per 100,000 due to trauma were estimated using the 2017 global burden of disease results. Global burden of disease estimation utilizes a Bayesian metaregression and best available data to estimate the prevalence of diseases and injuries, such as amputation.

In 2017, 57.7 million people were living with limb amputation due to traumatic causes worldwide. Leading traumatic causes of limb amputation were falls (36.2%), road injuries (15.7%), other transportation injuries (11.2%), and mechanical forces (10.4%). The highest number of prevalent traumatic amputations was in East Asia and South Asia followed by Western Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, high-income North America and Eastern Europe. Based on these prevalence estimates, approximately 75,850 prosthetists are needed globally to treat people with traumatic amputations.

Amputation prevalence estimates and patterns can inform prosthetic service provision, education and planning.

Incidence and Mortality Trend of Congenital Heart Disease at the Global, Regional, and National Level, 1990-2017

Congenital heart disease (CHD) is the most commonly diagnosed congenital disorder in newborns. The incidence and mortality of CHD vary worldwide. A detailed understanding of the global, regional, and national distribution of CHD is critical for CHD prevention.We collected the incidence and mortality data of CHD from the Global Burden of Disease study 2017 database. Average annual percentage change was applied to quantify the temporal trends of CHD incidence and mortality at the global, regional, and national level, 1990-2017. A sociodemographic index (SDI) was created for each location based on income per capita, educational attainment, and fertility.The incidence of CHD was relatively high in developing countries located in Africa and Asia, while low in most developed countries. Between 1990 and 2017, the CHD incidence rate remained stable at the global level, whereas increased in certain developed countries, such as Germany and France. The age-standardized mortality rate of CHD declined substantially over the last 3 decades, regardless of sex, age, and SDI region. The decline was more prominent in developed countries. We also detected a significant positive correlation between CHD incidence and CHD mortality in both 1990 and 2017, by SDI.The incidence of CHD remained stable over the last 3 decades, suggesting little improvement in CHD prevention strategies and highlighting the importance of etiological studies. The mortality of CHD decreased worldwide, albeit the greatly geographical heterogeneity. Developing countries located in Africa and Asia deserve more attention and priority in the global CHD prevention program.

Global Retinoblastoma Presentation and Analysis by National Income Level

Early diagnosis of retinoblastoma, the most common intraocular cancer, can save both a child’s life and vision. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that many children across the world are diagnosed late. To our knowledge, the clinical presentation of retinoblastoma has never been assessed on a global scale.

To report the retinoblastoma stage at diagnosis in patients across the world during a single year, to investigate associations between clinical variables and national income level, and to investigate risk factors for advanced disease at diagnosis.

Design, Setting, and Participants
A total of 278 retinoblastoma treatment centers were recruited from June 2017 through December 2018 to participate in a cross-sectional analysis of treatment-naive patients with retinoblastoma who were diagnosed in 2017.

Main Outcomes and Measures
Age at presentation, proportion of familial history of retinoblastoma, and tumor stage and metastasis.

The cohort included 4351 new patients from 153 countries; the median age at diagnosis was 30.5 (interquartile range, 18.3-45.9) months, and 1976 patients (45.4%) were female. Most patients (n = 3685 [84.7%]) were from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Globally, the most common indication for referral was leukocoria (n = 2638 [62.8%]), followed by strabismus (n = 429 [10.2%]) and proptosis (n = 309 [7.4%]). Patients from high-income countries (HICs) were diagnosed at a median age of 14.1 months, with 656 of 666 (98.5%) patients having intraocular retinoblastoma and 2 (0.3%) having metastasis. Patients from low-income countries were diagnosed at a median age of 30.5 months, with 256 of 521 (49.1%) having extraocular retinoblastoma and 94 of 498 (18.9%) having metastasis. Lower national income level was associated with older presentation age, higher proportion of locally advanced disease and distant metastasis, and smaller proportion of familial history of retinoblastoma. Advanced disease at diagnosis was more common in LMICs even after adjusting for age (odds ratio for low-income countries vs upper-middle–income countries and HICs, 17.92 [95% CI, 12.94-24.80], and for lower-middle–income countries vs upper-middle–income countries and HICs, 5.74 [95% CI, 4.30-7.68]).

Conclusions and Relevance
This study is estimated to have included more than half of all new retinoblastoma cases worldwide in 2017. Children from LMICs, where the main global retinoblastoma burden lies, presented at an older age with more advanced disease and demonstrated a smaller proportion of familial history of retinoblastoma, likely because many do not reach a childbearing age. Given that retinoblastoma is curable, these data are concerning and mandate intervention at national and international levels. Further studies are needed to investigate factors, other than age at presentation, that may be associated with advanced disease in LMICs.

Global Neurosurgery in the Time of COVID-19

In this editorial, the term global surgery includes neurosurgical care delivery as an integral component of surgical systems and the broader health systems.
While there are many stories about the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on the delivery of surgical care and the clinical management of neurosurgical cases in high-income countries (HICs), less attention has been directed toward the impact of COVID-19 in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Nine-in-ten spine cases are in LMICs, and spine diseases make up 39.0% of operative cases in LMICs. The pandemic will stretch the resources of the already fragile surgical systems in LMICs and thereby worsen the disparities in access to neurosurgical care. As priorities are readjusted and unprecedented resources are made available to battle the new coronavirus, we need to explore the shared interests between global surgery and pandemic response and preparedness.