Challenges and opportunities for implementing hypofractionated radiotherapy in Africa: lessons from the HypoAfrica clinical trial

16 Feb 2023
Elizabeth Olatunji, William Swanson, Saloni Patel, Samuel Olaolu Adeneye, Funmilayo Aina-Tofolari, Stephen Avery, Jumaa Dachi Kisukari, Katy Graef, Saiful Huq, Robert Jeraj, Adedayo O Joseph, Joerg Lehmann, Heng Li, Abba Mallum, Thokozani Mkhize, Twalib Athumani Ngoma, Andrej Studen, Krishni Wijesooriya, Luca Incrocci, Wilfred Ngwa

The rising cancer incidence and mortality in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) warrants an increased focus on adopting or developing approaches that can significantly increase access to treatment in the region. One such approach recommended by the recent Lancet Oncology Commission for sub-Saharan Africa is hypofractionated radiotherapy (HFRT), which can substantially increase access to radiotherapy by reducing the overall duration of time (in days) each person spends being treated. Here we highlight challenges in adopting such an approach identified during the implementation of the HypoAfrica clinical trial. The HypoAfrica clinical trial is a longitudinal, multicentre study exploring the feasibility of applying HFRT for prostate cancer in SSA. This study has presented an opportunity for a pragmatic assessment of potential barriers and facilitators to adopting HFRT. Our results highlight three key challenges: quality assurance, study harmonisation and machine maintenance. We describe solutions employed to resolve these challenges and opportunities for longer term solutions that can facilitate scaling-up use of HFRT in SSA in clinical care and multicentre clinical trials. This report provides a valuable reference for the utilisation of radiotherapy approaches that increase access to treatment and the conduct of high-quality large-scale/multi-centre clinical trials involving radiotherapy.

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