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Neuro-Oncology ; 24:i166, 2022.
Article in English | EMBASE | ID: covidwho-1956580


INTRODUCTION: Central nervous system (CNS) tumors account for 20 - 30% of all childhood cancers. The Philippines is a lower-middle income country, wherein brain centers are located mostly in urban areas. We aimed to identify challenges that pediatric patients with CNS tumors encountered during the COVID-19 pandemic, which aggravated delays in their diagnosis and treatment. METHODS: This is a retrospective review of all pediatric patients who underwent neurosurgery for CNS tumors at the Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center, a tertiary referral center, from January 2020 until December 2021. We summarized patients' demographic data, clinical course, and perioperative outcomes. RESULTS: A total of 38 pediatric patients underwent neuro-oncologic surgery in our center during the study period. There were 18 males and 20 females, with a mean age of 7.5 ± 4.9 years. Tumor was biopsied and/or resected in 35 cases (92%). The most common histologic diagnoses were medulloblastoma (n=8, 21%) and high-grade glioma/glioblastoma (n=5, 13%). Median preoperative length of stay and total length of stay were 10 (IQR: 17) and 28 (IQR 33.75), respectively. There was a high perioperative mortality rate in 2020 (71%), but this decreased to 20% in 2021. Six patients (16%) developed COVID-19 infection during the perioperative period. There were nine patients (24%) who had documented tumor progression because of delays in adjuvant therapy. DISCUSSION: Aside from geographic barriers and catastrophic health expenditure, the major challenges that disrupted the care of pediatric patients with CNS tumors in our center during the COVID-19 pandemic were delays in neuroimaging for diagnosis, unavailability of operating room slots, deficiency in critical care beds, and workforce shortage due to COVID-19 infection among health workers. Health care systems must adapt to the changes brought about by the pandemic, so that children with CNS tumors are not neglected.