Surgical pathology in sub-Saharan Africa--volunteering in Malawi

Berezowska, Sabina; Tomoka, Tamiwe; Kamiza, Steve; Milner, Danny A; Langer, Rupert (2012). Surgical pathology in sub-Saharan Africa--volunteering in Malawi. Virchows Archiv, 460(4), pp. 363-70. Berlin: Springer-Verlag 10.1007/s00428-012-1217-z

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The breadth of material found in surgical pathology services in African countries differs from the common spectrum of "the West". We report our experience of a voluntary work in the pathology departments of Blantyre and Lilongwe, Malawi. During a 6-week period, 405 cases (378 histology and 27 cytology cases) were processed. The vast majority showed significant pathological findings (n = 369; 91.1 %): 175 cases (47.4 %) were non-tumoral conditions with predominance of inflammatory lesions, e.g., schistosomiasis (n = 11) and tuberculosis (n = 11). There were 39 (10.6 %) benign tumors or tumor-like lesions. Intraepithelial neoplasia of the cervix uteri dominated among premalignant conditions (n = 15; 4.1 %). The large group of malignancies (n = 140; 37.9 %) comprised 11 pediatric tumors (e.g., rhabdomyosarcoma, small blue round cell tumors) and 129 adult tumors. Among women (n = 76), squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) of the cervix uteri predominated (n = 25; 32.9 %), followed by breast carcinomas (n = 12; 15.8 %) and esophageal SCC (n = 9; 11.8 %). Males (n = 53) most often showed SCC of the esophagus (n = 9; 17.0 %) and of the urinary bladder (n = 7; 13.2 %). Lymphomas (n = 7) and Kaposi's sarcomas (n = 6) were less frequent. Differences compared to the western world include the character of the conditions in general, the spectrum of inflammatory lesions, and the young age of adult tumor patients (median 45 years; range 18-87 years). Providing pathology service in a low-resource country may be handicapped by lack of personnel, inadequate material resources, or insufficient infrastructure. Rotating volunteers offer a bridge for capacity building of both personnel and the local medical service; in addition, the volunteer's horizons are broadened professionally and personally.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute of Pathology > Clinical Pathology
04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute of Pathology

UniBE Contributor:

Berezowska, Sabina Anna, Langer, Rupert








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Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:32

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:10

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URI: (FactScience: 218877)

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