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Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2009 Oct;53(4):584-9. doi: 10.1002/pbc.22138.

Preoperative chemotherapy for patients with Wilms tumor in Malawi is feasible and efficacious.

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  • 1Department of Paediatrics, College of Medicine, University of Malawi, Blantyre, Malawi.



Wilms tumor has a survival rate of 85-90% in well resourced countries but in low income countries survival is lower. Malawi is a country with very limited resources. We studied the feasibility, toxicity and efficacy of preoperative chemotherapy for Wilms tumor in Malawian children.


All patients diagnosed with a Wilms tumor, admitted in Blantyre, Malawi, from 2006 to 2008, were included. These patients received SIOP-based preoperative chemotherapy followed by surgery and risk-stratified post-operative chemotherapy. Social support and counseling were provided to prevent abandonment of treatment.


Twenty patients were included. Mean tumor volume at diagnosis was 2,500 ml and eight patients (40%) had metastases. Ninety-five percent of patients presented with hypertension, 80% with microscopic hematuria and 60% with a raised platelet count. Preoperative chemotherapy resulted in >50% tumor reduction in 55% of patients with localized disease and 75% of patients with metastatic disease. During preoperative chemotherapy, 11 of 18 patients experienced >or= grade 3 anaemia, 7 patients experienced >or= grade 3 neutropenia. In 12 patients the tumor was resected. Reasons of treatment failure were: abandonment of treatment (N = 3), death during anaesthesia induction (N = 1), inoperability (N = 5, due to metastatic disease in N = 4) and relapse (N = 2). One patient died of malaria 2 months after completion of chemotherapy. Eight patients (40%) are alive with a median follow up of 8 months (range 0-1.5 years).


Preoperative chemotherapy for Wilms tumor is feasible, tolerated and efficacious in Malawi. Continued efforts are needed to encourage early presentation and to prevent abandonment.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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