Pediatric Cancer in Northern Tanzania: Evaluation of Diagnosis, Treatment, and Outcomes

J Glob Oncol. 2018 Sep;4:1-10. doi: 10.1200/JGO.2016.009027. Epub 2017 Jun 9.


Purpose: The majority of new diagnoses of pediatric cancer are made in resource-poor countries, where survival rates range from 5% to 25% compared with 80% in high-resource countries. Multiple factors, including diagnostic and treatment capacities and complex socioeconomic factors, contribute to this variation. This study evaluated the available resources and outcomes for pediatric patients with cancer at the first oncology treatment center in northern Tanzania.

Methods: Qualitative interviews were completed from July to August 2015 to determine available staff, hospital, diagnostic, treatment, and supportive care resources. A retrospective review of hospital admissions and clinic visits from January 2010 to August 2014 was completed. A total of 298 patients were identified, and data from 182 patient files were included in this review.

Results: Diagnostic, treatment, and supportive capacities are limited for pediatric cancer care. The most common diagnoses were Burkitt lymphoma (n = 32), other non-Hodgkin lymphoma (n = 26), and Wilms tumor (n = 25). A total of 40% of patients (n = 72) abandoned care. There was a 20% 2-year event-free survival rate, which was significantly affected by patient age, method of diagnosis, and year of diagnosis.

Conclusion: To our knowledge, this is the first review of pediatric cancer outcomes in northern Tanzania. The study identified areas for future development to improve pediatric cancer outcomes, which included strengthening of training and diagnostic capacities, development of registries and research databases, and the need for additional research to reduce treatment abandonment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Health Resources
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Progression-Free Survival
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tanzania
  • Treatment Outcome