A regional virtual case discussion forum in pediatric oncology: Experience of the pediatric oncology east and mediterranean group

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Background: The Pediatric Oncology East and Mediterranean (POEM) group that aims to share expertise among pediatric oncology providers across the Middle East, North Africa, and East Asia region initiated a virtual Case Discussion Forum (CDF) in 2013.
Methods: Meeting records from September 2013 till June 2021 were reviewed. Detailed minutes were available starting August 2016; case data were analyzed including diagnoses, purpose of presentation and recommendations. A 38-item survey assessing perception of benefits, challenges, and opportunities of the forum was distributed to members of the POEM group and results analyzed.
Results: A total of 140 cases were presented from 14 countries. After August 2016, 67 cases were presented, and those were analyzed regarding reasons for discussion, barriers, and recommendations. Details are presented in this report, and the most common challenges identified were related to histopathologic/molecular diagnosis (24%), imaging interpretation (18%), resource limitations (12%), and surgical difficulties (9%). A survey was distributed to all POEM members in 28 countries, and 76 responded. The main benefit reported was the provision of recommendations regarding treatment and evaluation, while the main challenges reported were time zone difference and workload. Recognized opportunities included conducting regionally relevant research studies based on clinical problems identified during discussions, and setting guidelines for resource-adapted treatment regimens.
Conclusions: The POEM CDF identified areas for multi-institutional regional studies and led to a twinning project between two centers in the region for improving diagnostic infrastructure. Such forums can identify specific resource limitations in pediatric cancer and direct efforts for targeted capacity building.


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Publication (Name of Journal)

Pediatric Blood & Cancer