Objective: Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) is the most common childhood malignancy in sub-Saharan Africa. Survival rates for NHL are higher than 80% in high-income countries.This study explores treatment outcomes of children with NHL in Kenya, a sub-Saharan low-income country, and the association between health insurance status at diagnosis and treatment outcomes.
Design: This was a retrospective medical records study. All children diagnosed with NHL in 2010, 2011 and 2012 were included. Data on treatment outcomes and health insurance status at diagnosis were collected.
Results: Of all 63 patients with NHL, 35% abandoned treatment, 22% had progressive or relapsed disease, 14% died and 29% had event-free survival. Most patients (73%) had no health insurance at diagnosis. Treatment outcomes in children with or without health insurance at diagnosis differed significantly (p=0.005). The most likely treatment outcome in children with health insurance at diagnosis was event-free survival (53%), whereas in children without health insurance at diagnosis it was abandonment of treatment (44%). Crude HR for treatment failure was 3.1 (95% CI 1.41 to 6.60, p=0.005) for uninsured versus insured children. The event-free survival estimate was significantly higher in children with health insurance at diagnosis than in patients without health insurance at diagnosis (p=0.003). Stage of disease at diagnosis was identified as a confounder of this association (adjusted HR=2.4, 95% CI 0.95 to 6.12, p=0.063).
Conclusions: Survival of children with NHL in Kenya is much lower compared with high-income countries. Abandonment of treatment is the most common cause of treatment failure. Health insurance at diagnosis was associated with better treatment outcomes and survival.