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Improving survival of retinoblastoma in Uganda

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JournalBritish Journal of Ophthalmology
DateAccepted/In press - 17 Dec 2014
DatePublished (current) - 12 Jan 2015
Number of pages6
Original languageEnglish


BACKGROUND: Diagnostic delay results in relatively high mortality among children with retinoblastoma in Uganda, where treatment was limited to surgery and, for some, radiotherapy. In order to improve outcomes, a simple programme of neoadjuvant and adjuvant chemotherapy was introduced. Here we report survival before and after this change to medical practice.

METHODS: Affordable standard off-patent chemotherapy agents were administered by trained paramedical staff to groups of patients at the same time. Survival before and after the introduction of chemotherapy was monitored. Between 2006 and 2013 a total of 270 patients with retinoblastoma were included, 181 treated prior to chemotherapy and 89 after (beginning in 2009). We had 94% follow-up and 249 had histological verification of diagnosis.

RESULTS: Using a proportional hazards model adjusted for age, sex and laterality, children treated after chemotherapy was introduced had a 37% lower risk of dying (HR 0.63, 95% CI 0.41 to 0.99) compared with children treated before. Prior to the introduction of chemotherapy only 15% of children who survived bilateral disease retained vision after treatment compared with 71% after chemotherapy.

CONCLUSIONS: The introduction of chemotherapy proved safe and cost-effective in non-specialist hands and was associated with significant improvements in survival and, among bilateral cases, in preserving vision.

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© The Author(s), 2015. Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details

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