Send to

Choose Destination
Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2017 Oct;64(10). doi: 10.1002/pbc.26560. Epub 2017 Apr 19.

Improvement in treatment abandonment in pediatric patients with cancer in Guatemala.

Author information

Division of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California.
Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California.
Unidad Nacional de Oncología Pediátrica, Guatemala City, Guatemala.
Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Department of Pediatrics, UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital, San Francisco, California.
Section of Hospital Medicine and Infectious Diseases, Department of Pediatrics, University of Colorado/Children's Hospital Colorado, Aurora, Colorado.
Hilo Bay Clinic, Community Health Center, Hilo, Hawaii.
School of Health Studies, University of Memphis, Tennessee.
Department of Statistics and Biostatistics, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California.



Treatment refusal and abandonment are major causes of treatment failure for children with cancer in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), like Guatemala. This study identified risk factors for and described the intervention that decreased abandonment.


This was a retrospective study of Guatemalan children (0-18 years) with cancer treated at the Unidad Nacional de Oncología Pediátrica (UNOP), 2001-2008, using the Pediatric Oncology Network Database. Treatment refusal was a failure to begin treatment and treatment abandonment was a lapse of 4 weeks or longer in treatment. The impact of medicina integral, a multidisciplinary psychosocial intervention team at UNOP was evaluated. Cox proportional hazards analysis identified the effect of demographic and clinical factors on abandonment. Kaplan-Meier analysis estimated the survival.


Of 1,789 patients, 21% refused or abandoned treatment. Abandonment decreased from 27% in 2001 to 7% in 2008 following the implementation of medicina integral. Factors associated with increased risk of refusal and abandonment: greater distance to the centre (P < 0.001), younger age (P = 0.017) and earlier year of diagnosis (P < 0.001). Indigenous race/ethnicity (P = 0.002) was associated with increased risk of abandonment alone. Abandonment correlated with decreased overall survival: 0.57 ± 0.02 (survival ± standard error) for those who completed therapy versus 0.06 ± 0.02 for those who abandoned treatment (P < 0.001) at 8.3 years.


This study identified distance, age, year of diagnosis and indigenous race/ethnicity as risk factors for abandonment. A multidisciplinary intervention reduced abandonment and can be replicated in other LMICs.


abandonment; global oncology; low- and middle-income country; pediatric oncology; refusal

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center