BACKGROUND: Childhood cancer is neglected within global health. Oxford Pediatrics Linking Oncology Research with Electives describes early outcomes following collaboration between low- and high-income paediatric surgery and oncology centres. The aim of this paper is twofold: to describe the development of a medical student-led research collaboration; and to report on the experience of Wilms' tumour (WT). METHODS: This cross-sectional observational study is reported as per STROBE guidelines. Collaborating centres included three tertiary hospitals in Tanzania, Rwanda and the UK. Data were submitted by medical students following retrospective patient note review of 2 years using a standardised data collection tool. Primary outcome was survival (point of discharge/death). RESULTS: There were 104 patients with WT reported across all centres over the study period (Tanzania n = 71, Rwanda n = 26, UK n = 7). Survival was higher in the high-income institution [87% in Tanzania, 92% in Rwanda, 100% in the UK (X2 36.19, p < 0.0001)]. Given the short-term follow-up and retrospective study design, this likely underestimates the true discrepancy. Age at presentation was comparable at the two African sites but lower in the UK (one-way ANOVA, F = 0.2997, p = 0.74). Disease was more advanced in Tanzania at presentation (84% stage III-IV cf. 60% and 57% in Rwanda and UK, respectively, X2 7.57, p = 0.02). All patients had pre-operative chemotherapy, and a majority had nephrectomy. Post-operative morbidity was higher in lower resourced settings (X2 33.72, p < 0.0001). Methodology involving medical students and junior doctors proved time- and cost-effective. This collaboration was a valuable learning experience for students about global research networks. CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates novel research methodology involving medical students collaborating across the global south and global north. The comparison of outcomes advocates, on an institutional level, for development in access to services and multidisciplinary treatment of WT.
World J Surg