Prevalence of cancer is on the rise in EA despite major progress

Friday February 22 2019

The cancer centre at the Rwanda Military Hospital. Cancer continues to afflict more people in the region despite major progress in proposed treatments. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA | NMG


As the region observed the World Cancer Day on February 4, the disease continues to afflict more people despite major progress in proposed treatments.

According to a report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, nearly 22 million new cases are expected each year by 2030 compared with 14 million in 2012, while deaths are also expected to increase from 8.2 million in 2012 to 13 million in 2030.

In Uganda, for example, 32,617 people were diagnosed with cancer in 2018 compared with 5,000 in 2017 and 4,000 in 2016.

Of the 2018 figure, 21,829 died.

State Minister for Primary Health Care Joyce Aducu was concerned by the figures at Uganda Cancer Institute, saying people go for cancer screening when the disease has reached advanced stages that are difficult to treat.

In Tanzania, data shows that at least 28,610 patients die of cancer every year.


The Ocean Road Cancer Institute statistics show an increase in new cancer cases. In 2015, 5,764 new cases were recorded, 2016 had 6,338 patients, rising to 7,091 in 2017 and 7,649 patients 2018.

However, the most common cancer type that is causing deaths in larger numbers in the country is cervical cancer at a 31.2 per cent, followed by breast cancer at 12 per cent, cancer of the oesophagus at 9.8 per cent, prostate cancer with 3.9 per cent, head and neck cancer by 6.8 per cent, then urinary bladder cancer with 2.8 per cent and skin cancer by 2.6 per cent.

Rwandan Minister for Health, Dr Diana Gashumba said there is a plan to upgrade health centres so that they can start offering tests for non-communicable diseases but warned Rwandans against diverse social habitats that could leave them exposed to cancer, including tobacco and alcohol consumption, bad eating habits including oily and sugary foods.

Kenya reported 47,887 cancer cases in 2018, with breast at 13 per cent, cervical at 11 per cent and oesophageal cancer at nine per cent.

There were 15,762 deaths in 2016, which rose to 16,953 in 2017.