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Satish Gopal, MD, MPH, assistant professor in the divisions of hematology/oncology and infectious diseases at the UNC School of Medicine, describes his experiences in assisting Kamuzu Central Hospital in the creation of a lab to diagnose and research cancer in Malawi.

Development of pathology capacity clearly has to be a core component of any future cancer control programme in Malawi. The limitations of clinical diagnosis in sub-Saharan Africa for other diseases—eg, tuberculosis, early infant diagnosis of HIV, and HIV treatment failure—are widely recognised. Patients with cancer in Malawi should not have to assume the risk of cytotoxic chemotherapy, particularly since the risk of infectious complications is high and little supportive care is available, based on what a lump or bump might be. Overburdened physicians and surgeons should not have to struggle with the demoralising choice between undertaking a potentially life-saving intervention on the one hand (eg, resection for early stage breast cancer) and avoiding a potentially harmful intervention on the other, with only clinical guesswork as a guide.”

Read more at the Lancet Oncology’s website.