Mortality rate from retinoblastoma 16 times higher in low income countries

New research led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine has examined death rates from childhood eye cancer

baby and adult hand
Pixabay/ skalekar1992

A new study published in The Lancet Global Health has highlighted that children in low income countries are 16 times more likely to die within the first three years of being diagnosed with retinoblastoma.

The research examined survival data in 4064 children with retinoblastoma from 149 different countries. These countries were categorised according to national income.

Scientists determined that 40% of children die within three years of diagnosis in low income countries, compared to 1% of children who receive the diagnosis in high income countries.

Director of the International Centre for Eye Health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Professor Matthew Burton, described the findings as “shocking.”

“We cannot accept children having such a high risk of death in low-income settings from a disease that elsewhere is viewed as curable. We need to ensure that the reasons for this disparity are ascertained and policies enacted that close this survival gap,” he emphasised.

Factors influencing the gap in survival rates may include limited awareness of the condition among the general public and healthcare workers, issues accessing treatment because of travel challenges, and the cost of receiving an assessment and treatment.

Low income countries are also less likely to have specialised treatment centres, with advanced equipment such as MRI machines and targeted chemotherapy.