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AORTIC 2017: Patient Access to Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation in Sub-Saharan Africa

By: Cordi Craig
Posted: Monday, November 13, 2017

A study conducted by John Galvin, MD, MPH, of Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, reports similar 5-year survival rates for autologous (52%) and allogeneic (50%) hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) conducted in sub-Saharan African nations. However, accessibility to clinics and medical centers that support the treatment is limited in the region for patients with cancers such as non-Hodgkin lymphoma, leukemia, Hodgkin lymphoma, and multiple myeloma. Results from the study were presented at the 2017 African Organisation for Research and Training in Cancer (AORTIC) International conference on Cancer in Africa in Kigali, Rwanda.

In a systematic review of electronic databases including MEDLINE, EMBASE, and PubMed, from the past 10 years, the author used a four-stage PRISMA-based selection process and ultimately chose a total of 32 published studies.

Dr. Galvin found that HSCT is six times more available to residents in developed nations than to residents in South Africa, the nation with reportedly the highest access in the sub-Saharan region. Hematologic malignancies have emerged as major causes of death in sub-Saharan Africa. Developing strategies to extend HSCT to selected patients through referral centers that serve multinational regions is reasonable and has the potential to increase accessibility to the surgery.