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Abstract

Cancer is an emerging public health problem in Africa. About 715,000 new cancer cases and 542,000 cancer deaths occurred in 2008 on the continent, with these numbers expected to double in the next 20 years simply because of the aging and growth of the population. Furthermore, cancers such as lung, female breast, and prostate cancers are diagnosed at much higher frequencies than in the past because of changes in lifestyle factors and detection practices associated with urbanization and economic development. Breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men have now become the most commonly diagnosed cancers in many Sub-Saharan African countries, replacing cervical and liver cancers. In most African countries, cancer control programs and the provision of early detection and treatment services are limited despite this increasing burden. This paper reviews the current patterns of cancer in Africa and the opportunities for reducing the burden through the application of resource level interventions, including implementation of vaccinations for liver and cervical cancers, tobacco control policies for smoking-related cancers, and low-tech early detection methods for cervical cancer, as well as pain relief at the palliative stage of cancer. Cancer 2012. © 2012 American Cancer Society.