“Complete unavailability of pathology services or delayed and inaccurate diagnoses are common challenges faced by low- and middle-income countries and contribute to disparities in cancer outcomes.”
Objectives: Adequate pathology services are a prerequisite to accurate cancer diagnoses and tailoring appropriate treatment. Limitations in skilled personnel and infrastructure are among the challenges faced by developing countries. We describe a stepwise implementation of anatomic pathology laboratory services at Butaro District Hospital, designated as a Cancer Center of Excellence in rural Rwanda.
Methods: The phased approach to developing pathology services up to December 2012 is described. A retrospective review of specimens submitted to Butaro District Hospital between July 1, 2012, and December 31, 2012, was conducted. Patient clinical characteristics and sociodemographics are also described.
Results: During the study period, a total of 437 tissue specimens were submitted. Among these, 143 (32.7%) were from male patients, 244 (55.8%) were confirmed as malignant, 163 (37.3%) were benign, 28 (6.4%) were inconclusive, and two (0.5%) results were not available at the time of analysis. The median time from specimen receipt at Butaro to final reporting was 32 days (range, 7–193 days; interquartile range, 23–44 days).
Conclusions: Our experience demonstrates that anatomic pathology services can be established in resource-limited settings and local capacity can be built to support accurate diagnoses. Our approach included leveraging partnerships, volunteer experts, and task shifting and will be expanded to include telepathology.