Original Research

Neuroblastoma survival in South African children is more influenced by biological than socioeconomic factors

Robyn Charlton, Thandeka Ngcana, Jennifer Geel
South African Journal of Oncology | Vol 6 | a244 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajo.v6i0.244 | © 2022 Robyn Charlton, Thandeka Ngcana, Jennifer Geel | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 03 August 2022 | Published: 12 December 2022

About the author(s)

Robyn Charlton, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Clinical Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Thandeka Ngcana, Division of Paediatric Haematology/Oncology, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Clinical Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; and, Department of Paediatric Haematology and Oncology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, Johannesburg, South Africa
Jennifer Geel, Division of Paediatric Haematology/Oncology, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Clinical Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; and, Department of Paediatric Haematology and Oncology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, Johannesburg, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Optimal management of neuroblastoma depends on accurate risk stratification at diagnosis. Many low- and middle-income countries lack access to specific genetic tests used globally for this purpose.

Aim: To determine whether socioeconomic factors predict prognosis in neuroblastoma and could therefore provide alternative measures for risk stratification in resource-constrained settings.

Setting: The three main paediatric oncology units in Johannesburg, South Africa: Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital and Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre.

Methods: This retrospective record review included 145 patients presenting with biopsy-proven neuroblastoma between 01 January 2000 and 31 December 2018. Kaplan–Meier survival analysis was performed in relation to biological and socioeconomic factors, the latter including parental employment status, nationality, and distance of residence from treating facility. Cox proportional hazards regression analysis assessed the significance and effect of these prognostic factors.

Results: Factors with significant effect on survival were age below 18 months (p < 0.0001), extra-abdominal primary tumour site (p = 0.02), lower stage (p < 0.001), serum ferritin level< 0.0001) and favourable International Neuroblastoma Pathological Committee histology (p < 0.0001), race (p = 0.005), nationality (p = 0.05) and paternal employment (p = 0.02). The association between distance from treating facility and stage at diagnosis was not significant (Tb = 0.108, p = 0.06).

Conclusion: Biological factors exert a great influence on neuroblastoma survival than the socioeconomic factors analysed. This suggests that tumour biology exerts an overriding influence on prognosis in neuroblastoma.

 


Keywords

neuroblastoma; prognosis; survival; socioeconomic factors; distance

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