Cancer prevention and control in the WHO African region
Abstract1. Cancer is an emerging public health problem in the WHO African Region. According to Globocan,1 there were 582 000 new cancer cases in sub-Saharan Africa in 2002. The commonest cancers in men are Kaposi’s sarcoma and cancers of the liver and prostate gland; in women cancers of the cervix and breast and Kaposi’s sarcoma are the commonest. 2. In developed countries, one third of cancers are preventable, one third are curable and the remaining one third are incurable. The situation in Africa is quite different with 80%–90% of cancer cases being incurable at presentation, 10%–15% curable when given appropriate treatment and less than 5% preventable. In 2002, 412 100 people in sub-Saharan Africa died from cancer. If no interventions are put in place, it is projected that by the year 2020, the number of new cancer cases will be 804 000 and the number of deaths due to cancer will be 626 400. 3. The main risk factors for cancer are viral and other infectious conditions such as hepatitis, HIV/AIDS or schistomiasis; tobacco use; environmental pollution; unhealthy diet; excessive alcohol intake; age; and lack of physical exercise. Prevention frequently offers the most cost-effective longterm strategy for cancer control. Preventive measures are doubly beneficial as they can also contribute to preventing other chronic diseases that share the same risk factors.
Regional Committee for Africa, 57. (2011). Cancer prevention and control in the WHO African region. https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/1810