Childhood cancers in a referral hospital in south-south Nigeria: a review of the spectrum and outcome of treatment
AbstractIntroduction: Childhood malignancies are now recognized as a growing global challenge, especially in resource poor settings. Although they constitute a smaller percentage of childhood illnesses in developing countries, compared with infectious diseases, the burden of cancer is still a tremendous problem on patients, families, the healthcare system, and the society. Data on the burden of childhood cancers across different regions is important, as there may be variations in incidences in different locations even within the same country. It will assist government agencies in better healthcare planning. Methods: An eight year retrospective analysis of all cancers diagnosed in children below the age of 18 years at the study centre between January 2007 and December 2014 was carried out. Case folders of all children diagnosed with malignancies within the study period were retrieved and analyzed with respect to age, gender, morphological or histological type of cancer, treatment modality, and outcome. Results: Eighty-four (84) children were diagnosed with various malignancies during the study period. Fourty-eight 48 (57.1%) were male and 36 (42.9%) were female giving a male to female ratio of 1.3:1. There were 27 cases (32.1%) of cancers recorded in children aged below 5 years and 35 cases (41.7%) were diagnosed in children between 5 to 10 years. Lymphomas were the most prevalent malignancies encountered accounting for 32 cases (38.1%). Burkitt's lymphoma constituted 22 (68.8%) of all lymphoma cases. The distribution of the four foremost malignancies recorded were as follows: Burkitt's lymphoma (22 cases; 26.2%), Nephroblastoma (12 cases; 14.3%), Rhabdomyosarcoma (6 cases; 7.1%) and 5 cases (6.0%) each Hodgkin's and non-hodgkin's lymphoma. Other malignancies included 4 cases (4.8%) each of acute leukaemia, neuroblastoma and retinoblastoma. There were three cases (3.6%) each of hepatoblastoma, and osteosarcoma among others. The cancer cure rate was very low 2.4%, losses to follow-up was 38.1% and 21.4% of patients died in the course of therapy either from advanced disease, complications of chemotherapy or late presentation. Conclusion: The distribution of the childhood malignancies in our environment shows similarity with reports from the same region and variation from other regions. The general outcome is very poor with a high percentage of discharge against medical advice and loss to follow up.
Pan African Medical Journal 2015; 22