Palliative Reconstructive Surgery: Contextualizing Palliation in Resource-Poor Settings

  • Nthumba P
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Introduction . Palliative care in Kenya and the larger Sub-Saharan Africa is considered a preserve of hospices, where these exist. Surgical training does not arm the surgeon with the skills needed to deal with the care of palliative patients. Resource constraints demand that the surgeon be multidiscipline trained so as to be able to adequately address the needs of a growing population of patients that could benefit from surgical palliation. Patients and Methods . The author describes his experience in the management of a series of 31 palliative care patients, aged 8 to 82 years. There were a total of nine known or presumed mortalities in the first year following surgery; 17 patients experienced an improved quality of life for at least 6 months after surgery. Fourteen of these were disease-free at 6 months. Conclusion . Palliative reconstructive surgery is indicated in a select number of patients. Although cure is not the primary intent of palliative surgery, the potential benefits of an improved quality of life and the possibility of cure should encourage a more proactive role for the surgeon. The need for palliative care can be expected to increase significantly in Africa, with the estimated fourfold increase of cancer patients over the next 50 years.




Nthumba, P. M. (2014). Palliative Reconstructive Surgery: Contextualizing Palliation in Resource-Poor Settings. Plastic Surgery International, 2014, 1–10.

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