Challenges faced by cancer patients during their course of radiotherapy treatment at radiotherapy department of Uganda Cancer Institute Mulago
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Background: Cancer is a condition in which cells of a tissue undergo uncontrolled proliferation. Radiotherapy is one of the treatment strategies for cancer that involves irradiating the tumor beds with high-voltage radiation (MV). In Uganda, Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) is the only comprehensive public cancer center located in the central region of the country and registers around 4000 new cancer cases annually. Radiotherapy treatment at UCI is divided into conventional RT which uses the Co-60 machine plus a Conventional simulator and 3D - Conformal RT which uses a Linear accelerator plus a CT simulator and lastly Brachytherapy Objective: To assess the challenges faced by cancer patients during their course of radiotherapy treatment at the radiotherapy department of Uganda Cancer Institute, Mulago. Methodology: A cross-section survey was conducted among the 69 cancer patients receiving radiotherapy treatment in particular at the Radiotherapy department Uganda Cancer Institute most importantly those prescribed to receive daily treatment for at least two weeks for any kind of cancer. A quantitative approach using questionnaires was employed for data collection which was stored under lock and key and analyzed using SPSS. Key Results: 53.62% of the participants/patients were female and 46.38% were male with 31.88% above 50 years of age and the majority 30.43% coming from the central region whilst the least 18.84% coming from the Northern region. 59.42% of the patients use public transport means to the treatment site. 43.48% rent the accommodation space whilst 39.13% reported using the DFCU shelter and UCI verandas to rest on. 39.13% reported having missed a day or more and 57.97% reported experiencing side effects of the treatment. Conclusion: Transportation to the treatment site, Accommodation, severe treatment side effects, long waiting hours, few treatment machines, and few RTTs and ROs to attend to the patients were identified to be the greatest challenge to the patients Recommendations: UCI should; train and employ more RTTs and ROs, establish a subsidized or cost-free accommodation shelter for patients coming from far, and collaborate with MOH to establish Regional Cancer centers among others.