The study, published in the scientific journal The Lancet Oncology, indicates that if urgent measures are not taken, the incidence of cancer in the region will rise by 2040 to 1.4 million cases annually.
The study, conducted by the Lancet Commission on Oncology, made up of international experts, highlights that one in seven women (14%) is at risk of developing cancer before the age of 75, and by 2050, half of all childhood cases. Cancer in the world will happen in Africa.
It also notes that about 4.2% of all new cancer cases in the world last year were recorded in sub-Saharan Africa.
For experts, this data is the result of a lethal combination of factors such as infection, environmental exposure, population aging, adoption of Western lifestyles or infrastructure problems, and a lack of qualified personnel and facilities for diagnosis, treatment and prevention.
They also noted that in sub-Saharan Africa, patients discover cancer at an advanced stage and have a high rate of dropout from treatment, in part due to a lack of knowledge of risk factors for the disease.
Added to this already serious situation is the Covid-19 pandemic, which has exacerbated many of these problems, the report warns.
According to data from the International Center for Research on Cancer, published in conjunction with the committee’s study, cervical cancer and breast cancer were more common in 2020 in countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Cervical cancer alone was responsible for the majority of cancer deaths (one in 100) and the leading cause of cancer death for women in 27 countries (with breast cancer being the leading cause of cancer death in 21 states).
Moreover, although there are geographic differences, approximately 14% of women in sub-Saharan Africa are at risk of developing cancer before the age of 75 years.
For men, prostate cancer was the main cancer (77,300 cases) in forty countries in the region, followed by liver cancer (24,700 cases) and colorectal cancer (23,400 cases).
Among the main problems in this area, the report cites the lack of prevention programs and low participation in the countries that have them.
Other problems are lack of vaccination against human papillomavirus (HPV), limited health systems, low level of education and traditional beliefs.
Infectious diseases, high consumption of tobacco and alcohol in men, and high daily caloric intake also exacerbate the problem.
The committee proposes actions to radically improve cancer care in the region, such as developing and funding national cancer control plans, national case registries to better plan actions, and potentially expanding universal health coverage.
It also suggests launching pilot programs for screening and early detection of cancer and including palliative care as an essential and essential part of treatment.
Finally, it recommends establishing training programs for physicians and pediatricians specializing in cancer treatment, establishing funded research institutes and committees, developing international collaborations and partnerships, and investing in telehealth.
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