By Christine Kern, contributing writer
Program aims to accelerate diagnosis and treatment and improve survival rates.
Cancer patients in developing countries face twice the risk of death as patients in the U.S. with the primary drivers including lack of screening, lack of access to treatment, and treatment methods decades behind the developed world. And patients frequently simply don’t follow up with physicians after being diagnosed and then show up at an emergency room with late-stage cancer — far too late for treatment.
To help combat this crisis in cancer treatment, the non-profit Global Cancer Institute (GCI), founded by renowned breast cancer expert Dr. Paul Goss, aims to bring simple interventions that are common in the U.S. to developing countries in order to accelerate diagnosis and treatment and improve survival rates. Video-based online Tumor Boards are just one example of how GCI is elevating cancer care in these developing nations.
Tumor Boards, which are required at U.S. hospitals but rare in developing countries, allow physicians to share difficult cases and seek advice and ideas from peers. Tumor boards allow doctors to reach a consensus regarding diagnosis and treatment plans for patients, ensuring the best quality of care possible.
Among the countries currently active on GCI Global Tumor Boards are Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Serbia, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, and Uruguay,
But physicians in developing countries often work more than one job and 14-hour days, leaving them with no time for research and few colleagues with whom to confer. GCI created the twice-monthly video-based online Global Tumor Boards last year, providing these physicians with a sounding board and advice on difficult cases. Now these boards draw hundreds of physicians for each session, affecting the outcomes of thousands of patients.
The tumor boards also serve as an education tool for newer doctors who may not have access to research or the latest developments in the field today. As the GCI website states, “These tumor boards have built a global network of doctors committed to sharing knowledge and expertise to improve the standard of cancer care globally. For each individual doctor we engage in our Global Tumor Boards, we can shift their pattern of practice for at least a thousand patients a year!”
The next Global Tumor Board, scheduled for July 21, will focus on Breast Cancer. Several physicians will present cases, several more will provide advice and we expect hundreds of physicians around the world to simply listen and learn. No patient names are used for the boards, so all personal health data remains protected. For more information or to register online, click here.