Childhood Cancer

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Understanding factors contributing to retention in care among children with cancer in sub-Saharan Africa

Baylor College of Medicine
Mark Zobeck, MD, PhD
Grant Type: 
Psychosocial Launch Grant
Year Awarded: 
Type of Childhood Cancer: 
General Pediatric Cancer
Project Description: 

In the United States, children fighting cancer rarely ever abandon care. Most will complete their cancer treatment. Many more children who get cancer in the United States survive. However, in poorer countries like Botswana and Malawi in Africa, many children with cancer do not finish treatment and die. In some countries in Africa, nearly half of children with cancer end up abandoning care. This is one of the reasons why most children with cancer in Africa die. At our treatment centers in Malawi and Botswana, we see most children with cancer finish their treatment. This led us to wonder why our treatment centers are successful at keeping patients and parents engaged successfully to complete treatment. To answer this question, we plan to interview two important groups of people: the healthcare workers who treat children with cancer and the patients’ caregivers who bring their children for treatment and manage their health at home. We will develop a special survey to find out how cancer treatments affect family life. We will ask caregivers what is hard about completing treatment. Based on what we find out, we will give advice on things that can help families with children with cancer remain in care.


Project Goal
We want to find out why some children with cancer in Africa do not finish their cancer treatment. We will also find out why some children with cancer in Africa do finish. Based on our findings, we will come up with advice for other people who treat children with cancer in poorer countries. Our goal is to help all children with cancer in Africa to finish their treatment so they can live long and healthy lives. We think this work will help more children with cancer in poorer countries survive.