Surgical Services for Cancer Care

Authors: Anna Dare, Benjamin O. Anderson, Richard Sullivan , C.S. Pramesh, Cheng-Har Yip, Andre Ilbawi, Isaac Adewole, Rajendra Badwe, Cindy Gauvreau


Despite the lack of attention paid to surgery in cancer studies, surgery offers significant curative and palliative outcomes when solid organ malignant cancers are excised. In low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) the availability of, access to, safety of, and quality of surgical cancer (as well as availability of anesthesia) care varies widely. Surgery plays a key role in cancer diagnosis by tissue sampling and biopsies, and in LMICs that lack available chemotherapy and radiotherapy, surgery may present itself as the best treatment option. Delivery platforms vary among community health centers, district (first-level) hospitals, regional (second-level) hospitals, and tertiary hospitals. The shortage of specialist health workers requires proactive strategic planning at the national level; poor infrastructure and lack of equipment also obstruct delivery of surgical services. While more research is needed, surgical interventions are the most significant life-saving treatment for cancer patients and offer good-value choices for health care investment in LMICs.

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