Clinicopathological characteristics and treatment outcomes of oesophageal cancer patients in Uganda

19 Jul 2023
Siraji Obayo, Yusuf Mulumba, Cheryl L Thompson, Michael K Gibson, Matthew M Cooney, Jackson Orem

Background: Oesophageal cancer is the seventh most common cancer and the sixth leading cause of cancer death worldwide, and its incidence varies globally. In Uganda, the incidence and trend are on the increase. However, there is a paucity of published data regarding this population’s oesophageal cancer clinicopathologic characterisation and treatment outcomes.

Objectives: To study the patients’ clinicopathologic characteristics and treatment outcomes of oesophageal cancer over 10 years at the Uganda Cancer Institute.

Methods: Patients’ charts with histologically confirmed diagnoses of oesophageal cancer for 2009–2019 were identified. Case information, which included patient demographics, history of alcohol use or smoking, tumour location, histological type, tumour grade, clinical TNM (Tumour, Node, Metastasis) staging treatment exposure and treatment outcomes, was evaluated retrospectively. The median survival time was estimated with the Kaplan-Meier method and the median follow-up period was estimated using the reverse Kaplan-Meier.

Results: 1,965 oesophageal cancer patients were identified; 1,380(70.23%) were males and 585(29.77 %) females, their mean age was 60.20 years (±12.66). Most males had a history of both alcohol consumption and smoking 640(46.38%). The lower third of the oesophagus was the most common anatomical location 771(39.24%). The majority had squamous cell carcinoma histological type 1,783(90.74%) followed by adenocarcinomas 182(9.26%) in the distal oesophagus. Poorly differentiated tumour grade 743(37.81%) was predominant. The majority of the patients were in stage IVB, 733(37.30%), and most patients were planned for the best supportive care, 731(37.20%). Radiation alone was offered to 621(31.60%) and feeding gastrostomy to 249(12.70%). Treatment outcomes: at the time of the current analysis, 58.68% had died, 1.48% were alive and 39.84% were lost to follow-up. The median follow-up period was 65 months (IQR:35.83–83.30) with a median survival time of 4.47 months (95% CI: 4.17–4.80).

Conclusion: Treatment outcomes of Ugandan oesophageal cancer patients seeking care are poor as most patients present with advanced disease. There is a significant loss of follow-up after treatment initiation. Therefore, reduction in exposure to known modifiable risk factors, early detection and timely referral for treatment strategies are needed to improve outcomes of these patients in our population. Designing interventions to improve treatment adherence is necessary.

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