CONFLICT AND HEALTH, vol.16, no.1, 2022 (SCI-Expanded)
Background With more than 3.6 million Syrian refugees Turkey hosts the world's largest number of Syrians. Considering the morbidity, mortality, and healthcare spending, cancer is one of the leading health and economic burden for patients and healthcare systems. However, very limited information available in the scientific literature to understand the burden and characteristics of cancer in countries hosting Syrian refugees. The aim of the present study is to evaluate the demographic and clinical characteristics, treatment outcome of Syrian cancer patients living in Konya, Turkey. Methods We retrospectively reviewed medical records of Syrian cancer patients at three major institutions from 2005 to 2020. The information regarding demographic and clinical characteristics of patients were identified. The number of days between the first symptom and diagnosis was considered as the "diagnostic interval". Patients who failed to attend clinics within four weeks of appointment were assumed abandoned treatment. Survival curves were estimated using the Kaplan-Meier method. Results We identified 230 adult and 38 children refugee diagnosed with cancer during the study period. With regards to adult patients, there were 114 (49.6%) male and 116 (50.4%) female. The median age at diagnosis was 52.4, 47.3 years for male, female respectively. The five most common cancer by site among all were; breast (24.8%), colorectal (10.9%), lung (7.4%), central nervous system (CNS) (7.0%), and stomach (5.2%). 93 (40.4%) had metastatic disease at diagnosis. The overall survival probability was 37.5% at five years for the adult population. Data were extracted for 20 boys and 18 girls with childhood cancer. Their median age at diagnosis was 5.8 and 6.0 years respectively. The three most common childhood cancer were; leukemias (21.1%), lymphomas (21.1%), and CNS (13.2%). Excluding leukemia, 13 (43.3%) of childhood cancer cases had the advanced disease at diagnosis. Three year survival probality was 69.5%. The median diagnostic interval for adult and childhood cancer was 96.5 (IQR = 53-165) and 23 (IQR = 13.5-59) days respectively. Twenty-one adults and four children had treatment abandonment. Conclusion This study contributes to understanding the burden of cancer among Syrian refugees living in Konya, growing health issue for refugees. Larger and prospective studies will help to measure the real burden and compare the difference in cancer risk factors, care, and outcomes among the refugee and host populations.