Sub-Saharan Africa: Cancer burden expected to almost double in next 20 years

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“The disease is among the top three leading causes of premature death (i.e. between the ages of 30 and 69) in almost all constituent countries and is responsible for one in seven premature deaths globally. and one in four deaths from non-communicable diseases,” IARC said in a statement.

The study reports the cancer burden in sub-Saharan Africa using estimates of national cancer incidence and mortality from the IARC’s GLOBOCAN 2020 database.

She reports that even if cancer incidence rates remain unchanged, the cancer burden is expected to nearly double in sub-Saharan Africa over the next 20 years due to population growth and aging, to 1.5 million. new cases and 1 million deaths by 2040.

Characteristics of cancers in sub-Saharan Africa

The new report gives an overview of the cancer burden in terms of the number and characteristics of cancers in the region.

It reports an estimated total of 801,392 new cancer cases and 520,158 cancer deaths in sub-Saharan Africa in 2020.

Female breast cancer (129,400 cases) and cervical cancer (110,300 cases) are responsible for 3 out of 10 cancers diagnosed in both sexes.

Among women, the most common types of cancer are breast cancer (which ranked first in 28 countries) and cervical cancer (in 19 countries). While in men, the most common type of cancer was prostate cancer (77,300 cases), followed by liver cancer (24,700 cases) and colorectal cancer (23,400 cases). Prostate cancer is the most common incident cancer in men in 40 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

The risk for a sub-Saharan African woman of developing cancer at the age of 75 is 14.1%, with breast cancer (4.1%) and cervical cancer (3. 5%) which together are responsible for half of this risk.

For men, the corresponding cumulative incidence at age 75 is lower (12.2%), with prostate cancer being responsible for a third of this risk (4.2%).

Invest in locally produced data

To overcome the growing challenge of cancer in the region, every country in sub-Saharan Africa needs to implement a cancer control program as part of national health planning and have routine surveillance systems that can track progress in cancer. the implementation of specific interventions.

The lead author of the study stressed the importance of investing in registries.

“A coordinated approach to the implementation of national strategies requires sustained investment in registries, which constitute the best surveillance system and provide data on incidence and survival by type of cancer and by stage at the time of diagnosis” , said the head of Cancer Surveillance at IARC and lead author of the report, Dr Freddie Bray.

The study authors point out that local data from cancer registries in the region – members of the African Cancer Registries Network (AFCRN) – are critical to improving outcomes and saving lives.

Investing in the main source of information – population-based cancer registries – would provide countries with the continuous data needed to plan and inform national cancer services, they said.

Over the past decade, the IARC-led Global Initiative for Cancer Registry Development (GICR) has given new impetus to supporting existing cancer registries and helping to establish new ones. registers. In sub-Saharan Africa, the work of the GICR is carried out by members of the AFCRN, a consortium of all population-based cancer registries in the region that can meet defined quality criteria, including progressively full coverage Population. The number of such registries in sub-Saharan Africa has increased from 21 in 2013 to 35 (in 25 different countries) by the end of 2021.

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