Publications by authors named "Alia Ahmad"

9 Publications

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Lag Time between Onset of First Symptom and Treatment of Retinoblastoma: An International Collaborative Study of 692 Patients from 10 Countries.

Cancers (Basel) 2021 Apr 19;13(8). Epub 2021 Apr 19.

Department of Ophthalmology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.

Background: The relationship between lag time and outcomes in retinoblastoma (RB) is unclear. In this study, we aimed to study the effect of lag time between onset of symptoms and diagnosis of retinoblastoma (RB) in countries based on their national-income and analyse its effect on the outcomes.

Methods: We performed a prospective study of 692 patients from 11 RB centres in 10 countries from 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2019.

Results: The following factors were significantly different among different countries based on national-income level: age at diagnosis of RB ( = 0.001), distance from home to nearest primary healthcare centre ( = 0.03) and mean lag time between detection of first symptom to visit to RB treatment centre ( = 0.0007). After adjusting for country income, increased lag time between onset of symptoms and diagnosis of RB was associated with higher chances of an advanced tumour at presentation ( < 0.001), higher chances of high-risk histopathology features ( = 0.003), regional lymph node metastasis ( < 0.001), systemic metastasis ( < 0.001) and death ( < 0.001).

Conclusions: There is a significant difference in the lag time between onset of signs and symptoms and referral to an RB treatment centre among countries based on national income resulting in significant differences in the presenting features and clinical outcomes.
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April 2021

Global Retinoblastoma Presentation and Analysis by National Income Level.

JAMA Oncol 2020 05;6(5):685-695

Imam Hussein Cancer Center, Karbala, Iraq.

Importance: Early diagnosis of retinoblastoma, the most common intraocular cancer, can save both a child's life and vision. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that many children across the world are diagnosed late. To our knowledge, the clinical presentation of retinoblastoma has never been assessed on a global scale.

Objectives: To report the retinoblastoma stage at diagnosis in patients across the world during a single year, to investigate associations between clinical variables and national income level, and to investigate risk factors for advanced disease at diagnosis.

Design, Setting, And Participants: A total of 278 retinoblastoma treatment centers were recruited from June 2017 through December 2018 to participate in a cross-sectional analysis of treatment-naive patients with retinoblastoma who were diagnosed in 2017.

Main Outcomes And Measures: Age at presentation, proportion of familial history of retinoblastoma, and tumor stage and metastasis.

Results: The cohort included 4351 new patients from 153 countries; the median age at diagnosis was 30.5 (interquartile range, 18.3-45.9) months, and 1976 patients (45.4%) were female. Most patients (n = 3685 [84.7%]) were from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Globally, the most common indication for referral was leukocoria (n = 2638 [62.8%]), followed by strabismus (n = 429 [10.2%]) and proptosis (n = 309 [7.4%]). Patients from high-income countries (HICs) were diagnosed at a median age of 14.1 months, with 656 of 666 (98.5%) patients having intraocular retinoblastoma and 2 (0.3%) having metastasis. Patients from low-income countries were diagnosed at a median age of 30.5 months, with 256 of 521 (49.1%) having extraocular retinoblastoma and 94 of 498 (18.9%) having metastasis. Lower national income level was associated with older presentation age, higher proportion of locally advanced disease and distant metastasis, and smaller proportion of familial history of retinoblastoma. Advanced disease at diagnosis was more common in LMICs even after adjusting for age (odds ratio for low-income countries vs upper-middle-income countries and HICs, 17.92 [95% CI, 12.94-24.80], and for lower-middle-income countries vs upper-middle-income countries and HICs, 5.74 [95% CI, 4.30-7.68]).

Conclusions And Relevance: This study is estimated to have included more than half of all new retinoblastoma cases worldwide in 2017. Children from LMICs, where the main global retinoblastoma burden lies, presented at an older age with more advanced disease and demonstrated a smaller proportion of familial history of retinoblastoma, likely because many do not reach a childbearing age. Given that retinoblastoma is curable, these data are concerning and mandate intervention at national and international levels. Further studies are needed to investigate factors, other than age at presentation, that may be associated with advanced disease in LMICs.
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May 2020

Metabolic Imaging of Pain Matrix Using F Fluoro-deoxyglucose Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography for Patients Undergoing L2 Dorsal Root Ganglion Stimulation for Low Back Pain.

Neuromodulation 2020 Feb;23(2):222-233

Department of Nuclear Medicine, St Bartholomew's Hospital, London, UK.

Introduction: Nociceptive signals from lumbar intervertebral discs ascend in the sympathetic chain via the L2 dorsal root ganglion (L2 DRG), a potential target for discogenic low back pain in neuromodulation. Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography (PET-CT) measures functional changes in the brain metabolic activity, identified by the changes in the regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) as determined by the changes of F-18 Fluoro-deoxyglucose ( F FDG) tracer within brain tissues.

Methods And Materials: Nine patients were recruited to explore the changes in PET-CT imaging at baseline and four-weeks post implantation of bilateral L2 DRG neurostimulation leads and implantable pulse generator (IPG). PET-CT scans were performed 30 min following an IV injection of 250±10% MBq of F FDG tracer. Fifteen frames were acquired in 15 min. PET list-mode raw data were reconstructed and normalized appropriately to a brain anatomical atlas.

Results: Nine patients were recruited to the study, where PET-CT imaging data for five patients were analyzed. The right and left insular cortex, primary and secondary somato-sensory cortices, prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, thalamus, amygdala, hippocampus and the midline periaqueductal areas, were assessed for any changes in the metabolic activity. A total of 85 pain matrix regions were delineated SUV (standardized uptake value) , SUV  ± SD, and SUV were calculated for each of these regions of the brain and were compared pre- and post-L2 DRG stimulation. Sixty-one of the 85 matrices showed an increase in metabolic activity whereas 24 matrices showed a reduction in metabolic activity.

Conclusion: This is the first ever study reporting the changes in cerebral metabolic activity and multi-frame static brain F FDG PET imaging after L2 DRG stimulation for discogenic low back pain. Predominantly an increased metabolic activity in nociceptive brain matrices are seen with an increased in F F FDG uptake following L2 DRG stimulation.
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February 2020

Cancer Epidemiology in Lahore, Pakistan - 2010-2015.

J Coll Physicians Surg Pak 2020 Feb;30(2):113-122

Department of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, The Children's Hospital and The Institute of Child Health, Lahore, Pakistan.

Objective: To study the cancer incidence rates in Lahore, which has an estimated annual population count of 10.3 million.

Study Design: Cross-sectional study.

Place And Duration Of Study: Data on new cancer cases diagnosed between 2010 and 2015, among the residents of Lahore district, Pakistan, was reviewed retrospectively in 2015-2017.

Methodology: Nineteen collaborating centres of the population-based Punjab Cancer Registry (PCR), representing both the government and private sectors, reported their cases to the coordinating office located within the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre (SKMCH&RC). The age-standardised incidence rates (ASIR) per 100,000 population, over a six-year period, were computed. Sixteen 5-year age groups were created beginning from 0-4 to 70-74 years, followed by 75+ years. Graphs on the five-year age-specific incidence rates by gender, were also generated.

Results: Between 2010 and 2015, 33,028 new malignancies were recorded in Lahore, with the crude average annual incidence rate being 53.1. In adults, the highest ASIRs were noted for cancers of the breast (77.3) among females and of prostate (11.4) in men. Age-specific incidence rates for female breast cancer showed an upward trend at the age of 20 years, reaching a figure of 160 at the age of 55 years. Among males, the rates for prostate cancer started to increase at the age of 55 years and reached a peak of 93 at 75 years.

Conclusion: These results warrant expanding cancer registration in the region and sharing statistics with policy-makers to establish hospitals accordingly to manage cancer, along with exploring various risk factors within the population.
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February 2020

Facet-joint injections for non-specific low back pain: a feasibility RCT.

Health Technol Assess 2017 12;21(74):1-130

Pain and Anaesthesia Research Centre, Barts Health NHS Trust, London, UK.

Background: Pain of lumbar facet-joint origin is a common cause of low back pain in adults and may lead to chronic pain and disability, with associated health and socioeconomic implications. The socioeconomic burden includes an inability to return to work resulting in loss of productivity in addition to direct and indirect health-care utilisation costs. Lumbar facet-joints are paired synovial joints between the superior and inferior articular processes of consecutive lumbar vertebrae and between the fifth lumbar vertebra and the sacrum. Facet-joint pain is defined as pain that arises from any structure that is part of the facet-joints, including the fibrous capsule, synovial membrane, hyaline cartilage and bone. This pain may be treated by intra-articular injections with local anaesthetic and steroid, although this treatment is not standardised. At present, there is no definitive research to support the use of targeted lumbar facet-joint injections to manage this pain. Because of the lack of high-quality, robust clinical evidence, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines on the management of chronic low back pain [NICE. . Clinical guideline (CG88). London: NICE; 2009] did not recommend the use of spinal injections despite their perceived potential to reduce pain intensity and improve rehabilitation, with NICE calling for further research to be undertaken. The updated guidelines [NICE. . NICE guideline (NG59). London: NICE; 2016] again do not recommend the use of spinal injections.

Objectives: To assess the feasibility of carrying out a definitive study to evaluate the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of lumbar facet-joint injections compared with a sham procedure in patients with non-specific low back pain of > 3 months' duration.

Design: Blinded parallel two-arm pilot randomised controlled trial.

Setting: Initially planned as a multicentre study involving three NHS trusts in the UK, recruitment took place in the pain and spinal orthopaedic clinics at Barts Health NHS Trust only.

Participants: Adult patients referred by their GP to the specialist clinics with non-specific low back pain of at least 3 months' duration despite NICE-recommended best non-invasive care (education and one of a physical exercise programme, acupuncture or manual therapy). Patients who had already received lumbar facet-joint injections or who had had previous back surgery were excluded.

Interventions: Participants who had a positive result following a diagnostic test (single medial branch nerve blocks) were randomised and blinded to receive either intra-articular lumbar facet-joint injections with steroids (intervention group) or a sham procedure (control group). All participants were invited to attend a group-based combined physical and psychological (CPP) programme.

Main Outcome Measures: In addition to the primary outcome of feasibility, questionnaires were used to assess a range of pain-related (including the Brief Pain Inventory and Short-Form McGill Pain Questionnaire version 2) and disability-related (including the EuroQol-5 Dimensions five-level version and Oswestry Low Back Pain Questionnaire) issues. Health-care utilisation and cost data were also assessed. The questionnaire visits took place at baseline and at 6 weeks, 3 months and 6 months post randomisation. The outcome assessors were blinded to the allocation groups.

Results: Of 628 participants screened for eligibility, nine were randomised to receive the study intervention (intervention group,  = 5; sham group,  = 4), six completed the CPP programme and eight completed the study.

Limitations: Failure to achieve our expected recruitment targets led to early closure of the study by the funder.

Conclusions: Because of the small number of participants recruited to the study, we were unable to draw any conclusions about the clinical effectiveness or cost-effectiveness of intra-articular lumbar facet-joint injections in the management of non-specific low back pain. Although we did not achieve the target recruitment rate from the pain clinics, we demonstrated our ability to develop a robust study protocol and deliver the intended interventions safely to all nine randomised participants, thus addressing many of the feasibility objectives.

Future Work: Stronger collaborations with primary care may improve the recruitment of patients earlier in their pain trajectory who are suitable for inclusion in a future trial.

Trial Registration: EudraCT 2014-003187-20 and Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN12191542.

Funding: This project was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Technology Assessment programme and will be published in full in ; Vol. 21, No. 74. See the NIHR Journals Library website for further project information.
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December 2017

Comparison of Presentation and Outcome in 100 Pediatric Hodgkin Lymphoma Patients Treated at Children Hospital, Lahore, Pakistan and Royal Marsden Hospital, UK.

J Coll Physicians Surg Pak 2016 Nov;26(11):904-907

Department of Paediatrics, Lahore General Hospital and PGMI, Lahore, Pakistan.

Objective: To compare differences in demographics and outcomes in childhood Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) presenting at the Children's Hospital Lahore (CHL), and Royal Marsden Hospital (RMH), UK.

Study Design: An observational comparative study.

Place And Duration Of Study: From January 2011 to February 2012 at CH, Lahore and from October 2008 to February 2012 at RMH, UK.

Methodology: Consecutive HL patients (50 from each hospital) were inducted. Data regarding age, gender, staging, histopathology and outcome were analysed. Clinical and pathological staging done according to Ann-Arbor and World Health Organization classification. Treatment duration was 6-8 months. They were followed for 6 months post-treatment. Frequencies of variables were noted and compared. Chi-square test was used for determining significance.

Results: Patients from Children's Hospital, Lahore were younger (mean 7.9 years) with male predominance (n=42, 84%). Histopathology showed Mixed Cellularity (MC) in 32 (64%), Nodular Sclerosis (NS) in 5 (10%), Lymphocyte Rich in 4 (8%) and lymphocyte depleted in 1 (2%), nodular lymphocyte predominant (NLP) in 1 (2%) each. Majority presented in stage IV (n=25,50%), or stage III (n=20,40%). Constitutional B symptoms were present in 37 (74%). Bone marrow involvement observed in 23 (46%). Remission was achieved in 42 (84%) patients; 2 (4%) relapsed, 4 (8%) expired and 2 (4%) left against medical advice. In contrast, RMH patients were older (mean 11.8 years.) and 30 (60%) were males. NS (n=40,80%) and NLP (n=6,12%) types were predominant. Two (4%) patients were in stage I, 27 (54%) in stage II, 12 (24%) in stage III and 9 (18%) presented in stage IV. Fourteen (28%) had B-symptoms. None had bone marrow disease. Event free survival was 46 (92%). Four (8%) patients relapsed. Three responded to second line therapy and one relapsed postautologous transplant.

Conclusion: Significant differences were observed in age at presentation, stage, histopathology and extent of bone marrow involvement between the groups. Of interest is the bone marrow involvement in stage IV patients in Pakistan. Delayed diagnosis account for advanced stage but difference in pathological subtype needs further study.
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November 2016

Palliative care consultation versus palliative care unit: which is associated with shorter terminal hospitalization length of stay among patients with cancer?

Am J Hosp Palliat Care 2015 May 2;32(3):275-9. Epub 2013 Dec 2.

Palliative Care Department, King Fahad Specialist Hospital-Dammam, Dammam, Saudi Arabia.

Hospital length of stay (LoS) may be used to assess end-of-life care aggressiveness and health care delivery efficiency. We describe the terminal hospitalization LoS of patients with cancer managed by a hospital-based palliative care (PC) program comprising a palliative care consultation (PCC) service and an inpatient palliative care unit (PCU). A total of 328 in-hospital cancer deaths were divided into 2 groups. The PCU group included patients admitted by the PC team directly to the PCU. The PCC group included patients admitted by other specialties and referred to the PCC team. The LoS of the PCU group was significantly shorter than that of the PCC group (9.9 [±9.4] vs 17.8 [±19.7] days, respectively; P < .001). Direct terminal hospitalization to PCU is not associated with longer LoS among cancer deaths managed by a hospital-based PC service.
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May 2015

Prevalence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus colonization and infection in hospitalized palliative care patients with cancer.

Am J Hosp Palliat Care 2013 Jun 9;30(4):377-9. Epub 2012 Jul 9.

Palliative Care Department, King Fahad Specialist Hospital-Dammam, Dammam, Saudi Arabia.

Little is known about the pattern of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) colonization and infection in hospitalized palliative care (PC) patients. We reviewed 854 admissions for 289 patients with advanced cancer managed by a PC service in a tertiary care hospital. The MRSA screening was performed at least once in 228 (79%) patients, and 21 (9%) of them were MRSA positive. Other cultures were done in 251 (86.8%) patients, and 8 (3%) patients were MRSA positive. The total number of MRSA-positive admissions was 28 (3%), with a median admission duration of 8 days. A substantial proportion of hospitalized PC patients with cancer are MRSA positive. Research is required to study the impact of infection control measures on the quality of PC delivered to MRSA-positive terminally ill patients in hospitals.
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June 2013

Pattern of referral of noncancer patients to palliative care in the eastern province of saudi arabia.

Indian J Palliat Care 2011 Sep;17(3):235-7

Palliative Care Department, King Fahad Specialist Hospital-Dammam, Dammam, Saudi Arabia.

Aim: The palliative care (PC) needs of patients with noncancer life-threatening illnesses are comparable to that of cancer patients. This report describes the contribution of noncancer patients to the population of PC patients in a tertiary care hospital in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia.

Materials And Methods: This is a retrospective review of the "palliative care inpatient database" of 21 months.

Results: From 474 patients, 20 (4.2%) had a noncancer diagnosis. The main reason for the referral of noncancer patients was pain control. The most prevalent diagnoses were sickle cell disease (SCD) in 6 (30%) patients and peripheral arterial disease (PAD) in 5 (25%).

Conclusions: These findings suggest that the PC needs of noncancer patients are largely unmet in our region. Further efforts are necessary to advance noncancer PC in Saudi Arabia. The PC needs of patients with SCD and PAD need to be addressed in future research.
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September 2011