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Trop Doct. 2017 Jan 1:49475517704363. doi: 10.1177/0049475517704363. [Epub ahead of print]

High-risk neuroblastoma in a sub-Saharan African country: telling it like it is.

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1 Professor Emeritus, Department of Paediatric Surgery, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa.
2 Paediatric Oncologist, Paediatric Haematology and Oncology Service, School of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of KwaZulu Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.


Neuroblastoma is uncommon in Africa, but when seen usually presents as high-risk disease with a poor prognosis. This aggressive biology of the tumour is frequently augmented by delayed presentation. Current treatment depends upon technologies and skills that are scarce in developing countries and the cost involved is generally beyond the means of healthcare providers who are faced with a myriad more pressing healthcare issues. The presentation, treatment and outcome of 45 African children with neuroblastoma are described. Due to a lack of resources precise risk stratification was impossible but visceral or bone metastases were present in 73% of patients at diagnosis. In 91% the primary tumour was intra-abdominal. Three children (7%) were paraplegic on admission. A localised tumour was seen in one child (2%). Fifteen children (33%) underwent a surgical procedure, with intent to cure in five among whom resection was incomplete in three. For all other children, treatment was palliative using chemotherapy with judicious use of radiotherapy. Thirteen children (29%) survived longer than six months. Overall survival at three years was 4%.


Africa; Neuroblastoma; palliative care

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