Treatment compliance as a major barrier to optimal cervical cancer treatment in Guatemala

Abigail S. Zamorano, Joaquin Barnoya, Eduardo Gharzouzi, Camaryn Chrisman Robbins, Emperatriz Orozco, Sarita Polo Guerra, David G. Mutch

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10 Scopus citations


PURPOSE Despite being the only hospital to provide comprehensive cervical cancer treatment to many medically underserved Guatemalan women, no assessment of the cervical cancer patient population at the Guatemala Cancer Institute has been performed. To understand the demographics of the patient population, their treatment outcomes, and access to care, we sought to assess treatment compliance of patients with cervical cancer at the Guatemala Cancer Institute and its effects on patient outcomes. METHODS A retrospective chart review was conducted of patients with cervical cancer between 2005 and 2007 and assessed for follow-up through December 2015. Demographics and clinical characteristics were tabulated. A Kaplan-Meier curve to model compliance was generated. RESULTS Ninety-two patients with invasive cancer were analyzed. Most presented with squamous cell carcinoma (73%) and at locally advanced stages (IIB, 51%; IIIB, 33%). Most (75 of 92, 81.5%) initiated treatment after diagnosis, but 18.5% (17 of 92) were lost to follow-up before treatment initiation. For treatment, 97% received external beam radiation, 84% brachytherapy, and 4% concomitant chemotherapy. Nearly 20% of patients were lost to follow-up in the first 6 months and 65% in the first 5 years. Of the 67 patients who completed treatment, only 15 (16% of the initial cohort) were diagnosed with a recurrence. No deaths were recorded. CONCLUSION The low recurrence rate and no documented deaths suggest a correlation with the low compliance rate and poor follow-up. This finding highlights the need to examine more fully the barriers to compliance and access to care among this population to optimize the treatment of cervical cancer.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Global Oncology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2019


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