Research

An overview of cancer research in South African academic and research institutions, 2013 - 2014

Jennifer Moodley, D Cristina Stefan, Vikash Sewram, Paul Ruff, Melvyn Freeman, Kwanele Asante-Shongwe

Abstract


Background and objectives. Cancer is emerging as a critical public health problem in South Africa (SA). Recognising the importance of research in addressing the cancer burden, the Ministerial Advisory Committee on the Prevention and Control of Cancer (MACC) research working group undertook a review of the current cancer research landscape in SA and related this to the cancer burden.

Methods. Academic and research institutions in SA were contacted to provide information on the titles of all current and recently completed (2013/2014) cancer research projects. Three MACC research working group members used the project titles to independently classify the projects by type of research (basic, clinical and public health – projects could be classified in more than one category) and disease site. A more detailed classification of projects addressing the five most common cancers diagnosed in males and females in SA was conducted using an adapted Common Scientific Outline (CSO) categorisation.

Results. Information was available on 556 cancer research projects. Overall, 301 projects were classified as clinical, 254 as basic science and 71 as public health research. The most common cancers being researched were cancers of the breast (n=95 projects) and cervix (n=43), leukaemia (n=36), non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (n=35) and lung cancer (n=23). Classification of the five most common cancers in males and females in SA, using the adapted CSO categories, showed that the majority of projects related to treatment, with relatively few projects on prevention, survivorship and patient perspectives.

Conclusion. Our findings established that there is a dearth of public health cancer research in SA.

Authors' affiliations

Jennifer Moodley, Cancer Research Initiative, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa; Women’s Health Research Unit, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

D Cristina Stefan, South African Medical Research Council, Cape Town, South Africa

Vikash Sewram, African Cancer Institute, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Tygerberg, Cape Town, South Africa; Division of Community Health, Department of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Tygerberg, Cape Town, South Africa

Paul Ruff, Division of Medical Oncology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Melvyn Freeman, Directorate of Non-Communicable Diseases, National Department of Health, Pretoria, South Africa; Department of Psychology, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Kwanele Asante-Shongwe, Steve Biko Centre for Bioethics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

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Keywords

Cancer; Research review; Research landscape; South Africa

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2016;106(6):607-610. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2016.v106i6.10314

Article History

Date submitted: 2015-11-07
Date published: 2016-05-10

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