JCO Glob Oncol. 2020 Nov;6:1791-1802. doi: 10.1200/GO.20.00377.
PURPOSE: Treatment of children with CNS tumors (CNSTs) demands a complex, interdisciplinary approach that is rarely available in low- and middle-income countries. We established the Cross-Border Neuro-Oncology Program (CBNP) between Rady Children’s Hospital, San Diego (RCHSD), and Hospital General, Tijuana (HGT), Mexico, to provide access to neuro-oncology care, including neurosurgic services, for children with CNSTs diagnosed at HGT. Our purpose was to assess the feasibility of the CBNP across the United States-Mexico border and improve survival for children with CNSTs at HGT by implementing the CBNP.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: We prospectively assessed clinicopathologic profiles, the extent of resection, progression-free survival, and overall survival (OS) in children with CNSTs at HGT from 2010 to 2017.
RESULTS: Sixty patients with CNSTs participated in the CBNP during the study period. The most common diagnoses were low-grade glioma (24.5%) and medulloblastoma (22.4%). Of patients who were eligible for surgery, 49 underwent resection at RCHSD and returned to HGT for collaborative management. Gross total resection was achieved in 78% of cases at RCHSD compared with 0% at HGT (P < .001) and was a predictor of 5-year OS (hazard ratio, 0.250; 95% CI, 0.067 to 0.934; P = .024). Five-year OS improved from 0% before 2010 to 52% in 2017.
CONCLUSION: The CBNP facilitated access to complex neuro-oncology care for underserved children in Mexico through binational exchanges of resources and expertise. Survival for patients in the CBNP dramatically improved. Gross total resection at RCHSD was associated with higher OS, highlighting the critical role of experienced neurosurgeons in the treatment of CNSTs. The CBNP model offers an attractive alternative for children with CNSTs in low- and middle-income countries who require complex neuro-oncology care, particularly those in close proximity to institutions in high-income countries with extensive neuro-oncology expertise.