UCSF Team Helps Shape National Cancer Treatment Guidelines for Tanzania

Fewer than 10% of people with cancer in sub-Saharan Africa currently receive appropriate treatment following a cancer diagnosis, and physicians take care of oncology patients largely in the absence of guidelines for pain relief, chemotherapy, and radiation. As part of Tanzania’s effort to address its rising burden of cancer and limited resources for cancer care, key stakeholders have been part of a larger collaboration with the African Cancer Coalition and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) to draft resource-stratified guidelines for cancer care in sub-Saharan Africa. However, the Ministry of Health in Tanzania has propelled this agenda forward in Tanzania by commissioning a first edition of Tanzania’s National Cancer Treatment Guidelines.

Global Cancer Program, Tanzania Partners
Back row (from left to right): Samantha Schildroth (GCP intern), Gabrielle Purcell (GCP Program Manager), Dr. Ross Okimoto, Dr. Rosanna Wustrack, Dr. Steven Braunstein, Dr. Rebecca DeBoer, Dr. Katy Tsai; Front row: Dr. Jerry Ndumbalo, Dr. Katherine Van Loon, Dr. Stephen Meena

Over the past year, Dr. Jerry Ndumbalo, an oncologist at Ocean Road Cancer Institute and Chair of the Committee for Tanzania National Cancer Treatment Guidelines, has organized committees of key stakeholders and clinical leaders within Tanzania that have drafted the treatment guidelines for a variety of common and rare cancers. Following a lengthy and iterative development process with local stakeholders, Tanzanian leaders requested UCSF’s involvement to provide an external review for the drafted guidelines. 


In April, the HDFCCC Global Cancer Program hosted Drs. Jerry Ndumbalo and Stephen Meena, two oncologists from the Ocean Road Cancer Institute (ORCI) in Tanzania, for an intensive two-week visit to review the draft of Tanzania’s National Cancer Treatment Guidelines with UCSF faculty.  During their visit, Drs. Ndumbalo and Meena provided an orientation to cancer care in Tanzania and met with over 30 UCSF faculty from variety of cancer disciplines to solicit their expert opinions. At the end of their visit, Dr. Ndumbalo noted his appreciation to UCSF faculty for their time and dedication to this project, stating that he and his colleagues are “looking forward to having our very first national cancer treatment guidelines that will improve treatment and care of cancer patients in Tanzania.”

Dr. Rosanna Wustrack, from the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, participated in the review of guidelines for the management of sarcoma and reflected on this experience: “The guideline review was an incredible opportunity to contribute to UCSF’s global cancer presence. I was very impressed by the depth of knowledge and enthusiasm of our colleagues from Tanzania as they develop their first-ever national treatment guidelines.”

Over the coming months, the guidelines will be finalized by the Tanzanian sub-committees and then will be sent to the Ministry of Health for final review and dissemination. As part of its broader collaboration in Tanzania, the Global Cancer Program at HDFCCC will continue its partnership with oncology teams at ORCI, Muhimbili National Hospital, and Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences to support implementation of these guidelines in Tanzania and to measure impact on cancer outcomes in Tanzania.