Supportive care for children with cancer
In collaboration with and at the request of our colleagues in Indonesia and Africa, several projects have been set up in recent months to improve the supportive care of children with cancer. Supportive care is needed to compensate for the side effects and complications of cancer treatment. Such as the treatment of infections, nausea, pain and nutritional support. The better the supportive care, the better children can endure the treatment and that improves their chance of recovery. Moreover, good supportive care leads to a better quality of life. Many children with cancer in poor countries simply die due to complications from treatment and thus from lack of supportive care. There is enormous profit to be gained here, which is why we have recently started supportive care projects in various African countries and in Indonesia.
Supportive care project Indonesia
The Dr. Sardjito Hospital in Yogyakarta is already working with great success with a parent education program. Medication diaries are used and support meetings are held for parents. The hospital is now preparing for a new supportive care project. The aim is to improve the quality of life of young cancer patients and their families. Among other things, the focus will be on the provision of preventive antibiotics to reduce the risk of infections and thus the risk of death. Cancer and the necessary aggressive, but potentially curative, treatment can lead to complications and side effects. One of the most important complications is infections. In developing countries, these infections in children with cancer are more often fatal. Offering preventive antibiotics can help improve the chances of survival. This new project will also focus on palliative care and the regular measurement and recording of physical and psychological symptoms and the quality of life of children with cancer. Research coordinator Saskia Mostert and pediatric oncologist Gertjan Kaspers supervise the project from the Netherlands, local supervisors are Prof. Sri Mulatsih and PhD candidate Alexandra Widita Pangarso.
Supportive care in African countries
SUCCOUR stands for ‘Supportive Care for Children with Cancer in Africa’ and aims to improve supportive care for children with cancer in Africa. Hospitals in Kenya (Eldoret), Zimbabwe, Cameroon and Ghana are currently participating in the project, with the hospital in Blantyre, Malawi as the core hospital. The project is led by Dr. George Chagaluka (Malawi), nurse Glenn Mbah (Cameroon) and Dr. Trijn Israels (Princess Máxima Center).
The first ‘baseline measurement’ in these hospitals will be completed in March 2020. Current supportive care was looked at, with special attention to nutritional support, fever during treatment, treatment completion and mortality during treatment. Data from a total of over 200 patients have been collected. These data will help prioritize interventions and evaluate their impact. This will be the basis for targeted supportive care in the participating hospitals and countries.