Treatment guideline concordance, initiation, and abandonment in patients with non-metastatic breast cancer from the African Breast Cancer–Disparities in Outcomes (ABC-DO) cohort in sub-Saharan Africa: a prospective cohort study


Comprehensive breast cancer management is essential to achieve high breast cancer survival; however, detailed reports of the treatment regimens received by patients are scarce in sub-Saharan Africa where survival is low. We aimed to examine treatment initiation, guideline concordance, and abandonment in patients with non-metastatic breast cancer in sub-Saharan Africa from the African Breast Cancer–Disparities in Outcomes (ABC-DO) prospective cohort.


The ABC-DO prospective cohort study recruited women (aged ≥18 years) with newly diagnosed invasive breast cancer in eight hospitals across five sub-Saharan African countries (Namibia, Nigeria, Uganda, South Africa, and Zambia). We analyzed treatments by received women who were classified as non-metastatic (M0) at the initial presentation. Data on surgery, radiotherapy, and systemic therapies were obtained from medical records and a self-reported follow-up questionnaire at 6 months after the diagnosis, follow-up calls every 3 months, and a baseline questionnaire. Initiation, completion, and abandonment of treatment modalities and combined therapy regimens were examined overall, by country-specific groups, and by clinical factors relevant for guideline-based treatment.


Of 2313 women recruited into the ABC-DO study between Sept 10, 2014, and Dec 31, 2017, 2226 had histologically or clinically confirmed breast cancer. Of these 2226 women, 510 were excluded from the present analysis because 378 had metastatic disease, 37 were prevalent cases (defined as those previously diagnosed with breast cancer >2 years before baseline), 82 had unknown TNM stage, and 13 were White or Asian women in South Africa (number was too small for analysis). After a median follow-up of 5 2 years (IQR 4 6–5 9), 1163 (68%) of 1716 women underwent breast cancer surgery. Surgery and systemic therapy (ie, multimodality treatment) with radiotherapy was initiated in 370 (36%) of 1028 women with localized tumors versus 156 (23%) of 688 women with locally advanced tumors, whereas multimodality treatment without radiotherapy was initiated in 386 ( 38%) versus 167 (24%) women, respectively. Of 1530 patients requiring chemotherapy (which excludes 105 who died within 6 months after baseline), 1013 (66%) initiated treatment of neoadjuvant chemotherapy or surgery within 3 months after baseline, which was adequately completed by 359 (35%) of 1013 women, marginally completed by 284 (28%), abandoned by 200 (20%), and unknown in 151 (15%). 19 (2%) women died within 6 months after chemotherapy initiation. Of 1375 women in whom endocrine therapy was indicated, this treatment was initiated in 920, and lasted at least 3 years in 367 (40%) women. Treatment disparities between country-specific groups were substantial for all therapy regimens.


A high proportion of patients with non-metastatic breast cancer did not initiate, did not fully complete, or abandoned treatment with surgery, systemic therapy, radiotherapy, or an appropriate combination of these, highlighting the need for improved treatment access and completion in sub- Saharan Africa to potentially prevent premature breast cancer deaths.


National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute), Susan G Komen, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

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