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Challenges in Care of Children with Acute Leukemia in a Government Hospital in India: A Retrospective AnalysisSource of Funding None.
Introduction Acute leukemia (AL) is among the most common treatable cancers in childhood but many children are forced to abandon therapy.
Objective We have explored reasons for treatment abandonment through this study.
Materials and Methods Retrospective analysis from an ongoing registry data of childhood AL patients, where all newly diagnosed AL patients of ≤18 years of age (June 2014–November 2017) were included. Patients >18 years of age, having any history of treatment of AL outside our institute, and/or patients with relapsed AL were excluded. The primary outcome of the study was treatment abandonment rate.
Results A total of 710 AL patients were included in the study, average distance traversed to reach the hospital being 161.66 km. Most children were aged 1 to 10 years (49.4%, n = 351), followed by >10 to 18 years (46.6%, n = 331), and ≤1 year age (3.9%, n = 28). The commonest symptoms were fever (67.4%), pallor (38.6%), bleeding (11.5%), bone pain (13.8%), neck swellings (14.9%), and, rarely, testicular swellings or Superior vena cava (SVC) syndrome (1.1%). A high abandonment rate was noted prior to leukemia subtyping (35.2%, n = 250) mostly among males 62% (n = 155) and the 1- to 10-year group 55.6% (n = 139). A total of 460 (64.8%) patients were subsequently subcategorized by immunophenotyping. Precursor B-cell (Pre-B) Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) in 307 (43.2%) patients was the commonest subtype, followed by early Pre-B ALL (Pro-B ALL) in 10 (1.4%), T-cell ALL (T-ALL) in 51 (7.1%), Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) in 45 (6.3%), Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia (APML) in 28 (3.9%), and Mixed Phenotypic Acute Leukemia (MPAL) in 19 (2.6%).
Conclusion The most common group of patients was aged 1 to 10 years (median age: 5 years). An abandonment rate of 35.2% was seen prior to complete diagnostic workup. The reason for this high abandonment, despite good disease prognosis, is a relevant social and health issue, and needs further evaluation. The problems discussed in this study are relevant to lower-income families and areas where health care is not easily accessible. The government agencies, nongovernment organizations and society would need to work together to overcome these issues.
07 August 2021 (online)
© 2021. Indian Society of Medical and Paediatric Oncology. This is an open access article published by Thieme under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonDerivative-NonCommercial-License, permitting copying and reproduction so long as the original work is given appropriate credit. Contents may not be used for commercial purposes, or adapted, remixed, transformed or built upon. (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).
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