Colorectal cancer disease profile and treatment patterns at an urban tertiary hospital in Rwanda

28 Mar 2024
Margaret Baldwin, Brandon A Niyibizi, Daniella Rangira, Benita Rangira, Madeleine K Kazindu, Daniel Seifu, Cristina Daniela Stefan, Eulade Rugengamanzi, Achille V C Manirakiza

Background: The incidence of colorectal cancer (CRC) in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is rising, due to improving cancer registration efforts on one hand and an increasing westernisation of diets and lifestyle on the other as well as increasing rates of comorbidities.

Methods: We present data for the clinical characteristics, pathology, treatments received, and survival outcomes of patients diagnosed with CRC at King Faisal Hospital (KFH) between January 2019 and May 2023. KFH is an urban tertiary hospital in Rwanda that provides chemotherapy and surgery to cancer patients. The data were extracted from electronic medical records, imaging and histopathology reports from the patient’s time of diagnosis. We plotted Kaplan–Meier estimation of survival, defined as the time from presentation to death, within the study period (2019–2023).

Results: Seventy-four patients diagnosed with CRC with complete information were identified in the KFH oncology records. The mean age at diagnosis was 54.6 years, with ages ranging between 22 and 81 years. At diagnosis, 24 (32.4%) patients were less than 50 years old and 29 (39.2%) were females. The rectum (36.5%) was the most common tumour location, and 58.1 tumours were left-sided. Most patients presented with Stage III (41.9%) or IV (35.1%) disease. Adenocarcinoma was the most common histological type (98.6%) including adenocarcinoma not otherwise specified (NOS) (86.5%), mucinous adenocarcinoma (10.8%), signet ring cell carcinoma (1.4%) and followed by squamous cell carcinoma (1.4%). In terms of treatment, 19 (25.7%) patients received only chemotherapy, 43 (58.1%) patients received neo-adjuvant or adjuvant chemotherapy, 9 (12.2%) of patients received both neo-adjuvant and adjuvant chemotherapy, 49 patients (66.2%) underwent surgery and 17 (23%) patients also received radiation. At the end of the follow up period, 63 (85.1%) patients remained in surveillance, 10 (13.5%) patients died, and 1 (1.3%) patient was lost to follow up. Mean overall survival was 45.5 (SD ± 2.0) months.

Conclusion: CRC patients presented at an advanced stage and required complex treatment regimens at KFH. Further epidemiologic and molecular research is needed to characterise CRC incidence and presentation at a national level in Rwanda as increasing westernisation continues to change the face of CRC in urban areas of SSA.

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