Background: Cervical cancer is the second commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in women in Ethiopia, with rates among the highest worldwide. However, there are limited data on cervical cancer treatment patterns and survival in the country. Herein, we examine treatment patterns and survival of cervical cancer patients treated in Tikur Anbessa Hospital Radiotherapy Center (TAHRC), the only hospital with radiotherapy facility in the country.
Methods: Women with histologically verified cervical cancer who were seen in 2014 at TAHRC were included. Information about clinical characteristics and treatments were extracted from the patients’ medical record files. The information on vital status was obtained from medical chart and through telephone calls.
Result: Of the 349 cervical cancer patients treated at the radiotherapy center of TAHRC in 2014, medical records were retrieved for 242 patients. The median age at diagnosis was 48 years. The median waiting time for radiotherapy was 5.58 months. Stage migration occurred in 13% of patients while waiting for radiotherapy. Consequently, the proportion of patients with stage III or IV disease increased from 66% at first consultation to 74% at the initiation of radiotherapy. Among 151 patients treated with curative intent, only 34 (22.5%) of the patients received concurrent chemotherapy while the reaming patients received radiotherapy alone. Fifty-two months overall survival rate was 21.5% (14.6% in the worst-case scenario). As expected, survival was lower in patients with advanced stage at initiation of radiotherapy and in those treated as palliative care.
Conclusion: The survival of cervical cancer patients remains low in Ethiopia because of late presentation and delay in receipt of radiotherapy, leading to stage migration in substantial proportion of the cases. Concerted and coordinated multisectoral efforts are needed to promote early presentation of cervical cancer and to shorten the unacceptable, long waiting time for radiotherapy.