Rwanda Clinical Care

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Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence (BCCOE): the Primary Location for Cancer Treatment Nationwide

The Center for Global Cancer Medicine (CGCM) works with the BCCOE to provide care to adults and children with treatable cancers at minimal or no cost to patients. More than 5,000 adults and pediatric patients have been treated at this center since its inception in 2012.

  • Services at BCCOE include:
  • Chemotherapy and cancer surgery
  • Electronic medical record with chemotherapy order entry
  • Designated area for mixing chemotherapy with a biosafety cabinet and personal protective equipment
  • Radiotherapy referral program
  • Cancer education
  • Long-term follow-up
  • Socioeconomic support
  • The Butaro Ambulatory Cancer Center (BACC), which offers day treatment for chemotherapy in a beautiful setting
  • Inpatient adult and pediatric patient oncology units
  • Butaro Cancer Support Center – offering housing and support services for patients and family traveling long distances to receive care

CGCM provides additional clinical support through:

  • Standardized clinical protocols for each type of cancer treated
  • Weekly tumor boards with CGCM oncologists
  • Monthly case-based educational seminars
  • Extended consulting visits by CGCM oncologists

BCCOE collaborates beyond Butaro by providing services two days per week at the Rwanda Cancer Center located at the Rwanda Military Hospital in the capital city of Kigali.

BCCOE has had a major impact on cancer care in Rwanda with the addition of pathology services. Biopsies were previously shipped to pathology consultants in Boston for processing, often delaying treatment initiation for many weeks. Now, BCCOE has its own laboratory, with pathologists and pathology technicians on staff to provide diagnoses for most cases. Complex cases are referred to US-based pathology experts using advanced telepathology methods.

Pediatric Oncologic Care in Butaro

From the inception of the program, CGCM has treated pediatric patients suffering from cancer. These patients are treated by Rwandan and visiting physicians with specialized expertise in the care of children and adolescents. Children are cared for on a pediatric ward with nurses trained in pediatric oncology care.

Our program features:

  • Standardized protocols for common pediatric cancers that are updated yearly by a multi-disciplinary team.
  • Strong supportive care in terms of antibiotics, imaging, and nutritional evaluations – allowing us to intensify therapy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and Burkitt's lymphoma in an effort to decrease the relapse rate.
  • Continuous tracking of outcomes of both treatment-related toxicity and disease relapse.

Providing Cancer Care in a Pandemic

Determined to provide uninterrupted cancer care in the face of the COVID-19 crisis, the Butaro oncology team set up a satellite clinic in the capital city to deliver chemotherapy treatments to local patients. They used drones and buses to deliver critical oral chemotherapy medications so patients could remain safe at home.