Abandonment of treatment and loss to follow up: a potential cause of treatment failure in patients with AIDS-related Kaposi’s sarcoma

Jayne M Kivai, Anastasia N Guantai, Walter O Mwanda, Timothy E Maitho


Background: Management of patients with cancer is complex, multi-disciplinary, longitudinal and costly. Abandonment of treatment by patients and loss to follow up is a common scenario, especially in resource poor countries and severely compromises health outcomes.

Objective: To assess the commitment to drug treatment protocol of patients with Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)-Related Kaposi’s Sarcoma at Kenyatta National Hospital, Kenya, over a 10 week period .

Methods: The study design was prospective, observational, cross-sectional period prevalence study on patients infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) with Kaposi’s sarcoma. Patients with histological diagnosis of Kaposi’s sarcoma were sequentially enrolled into the study as they attended either the Haematology or Radiotherapy clinic or during their admission in the wards. The choice of the treatment protocol was left at the discretion of the attending physician. A pretested data collection form was used to collect demographic and clinical information about the patients, including treatments prescribed and completion of follow up.

Results: A total of 74 patients were enrolled into the study, 42 (56.8%) males and 32 (43.2%) females. The age ranged between 13 years to 55 years. Their treatment protocols included: Vincristine only, Vincristine plus Bleomycin, Vincristine plus Bleomycin plus Doxorubicin, Radiotherapy plus Vincristine and Radiotherapy only. Few of the patients were not assigned any antitumor treatment. Antiemetic and other conventional medicines were also prescribed when necessary. Fifty four (73%) of the patients abandoned treatment, five (6.8%) died, 15(20.3%) continued to attend clinic over the 10 week period.  There was no significant association between sex and outcome (p=0.661).

Discussion: The results of this study demonstrate that abandonment of treatment is a major problem among patients on treatment for cancer in Kenyatta National Hospital in Kenya. Abandonment of treatment heavily contributes to poor clinical outcome hence complicating the burden of cancer in the country. It is therefore important to develop and establish follow-up systems to improve adherence to treatment for the cancer patients at Kenyatta National Hospital.

Key words: Abandonment of treatment, Loss to follow up, AIDS-Related Kaposi’s Sarcoma

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