About twice a week, the Pathology
Department at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's receives biopsy samples from children with cancer from hospitals in various
underdeveloped or developing countries. What
happens next can make all the difference to a child and his or her family
thousands of miles away. Pathologists in those countries do
their best but often have limited expertise in complex cases and lack the most
advanced diagnostic techniques — some of which are more costly than the
hospitals can afford.
The Pathology team confirms, improves
on, or modifies the tentative diagnoses made in the local pathology
departments, most of which are in hospitals that have a "twinning" relationship with the Global Health Initiative
More often than not — about 70 percent
of the time — pathologists at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s can use its
resources to provide a better diagnosis. For example, a 10-month-old girl in
Santander, Colombia, was initially thought to have a dangerous sarcoma of the
kidney. When a Boston Children’s pathologist examined a tissue sample, using tests
not available at the Colombian hospital, he revised the diagnosis: it was
actually a congenital tumor called mesoblastic nephroma, which can be cured by
complete surgical removal.
Another case was that of a 12-year-old
boy diagnosed in Managua, Nicaragua, with a soft tissue lump in his groin that
doctors had concluded was an alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma. Instead, the
pathologist determined it was an anaplastic large cell lymphoma, which — although aggressive — is curable with chemotherapy.
The entire Pathology team is committed
to making a difference in the lives of kids with cancer through this free,
long-distance consulting service. They
not only provide comprehensive evaluation of the cases, but also participate in
weekly web-conferences with the GHI partners to review cases and educate local
Helping our partners in underdeveloped
or developing countries obtain an accurate, effective, and timely diagnosis is
the first step towards increasing the survival of children with cancer and
expanding access to cancer care and control.
Contact us to learn how you can support our Global Health Initiative.
Psychosocial care is a key component of cancer care anywhere in the world.