Potential latitudinal variation in orodigestive tract cancers in Africa

H A Adeola, A O Adefuye, S A Jimoh


Background. Previous studies have alluded to a causal relationship between pathological entities and geographical variations, but there is a paucity of studies from Africa discussing the effect of latitudinal variation on orodigestive cancers in this region. It seems plausible that the burden of orodigestive cancer would differ as a result of variations in diet, cultural habits, climate and environmental conditions down the length of Africa.

Objectives. To analyse regional variations in prevalence, incidence and mortality data in the global cancer statistics database (GLOBOCAN 2012) curated by the World Health Organization and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Basic descriptive statistical tools were used to depict regional variations in cancer morbidity and mortality.

Methods. Data on 13 African countries between longitude 20⁰ and 30⁰ east and latitude 35⁰ north and 35⁰ south were examined for variation in age-standardised orodigestive cancer prevalence, incidence and mortality. Possible regional causes for orodigestive tract cancer development were investigated. Data on lip and oral cavity, oesophageal, gastric, colorectal, liver, gallbladder and pancreatic cancers in the 13 countries were compared.

Results. Our empirical findings from this preliminary study support the notion that the incidence and prevalence of orodigestive cancers vary within Africa. This effect may be due to environmental, economic, political and possibly genetic factors.

Conclusions. Considering the heterogeneity of the above factors across Africa, disbursement of funding for cancer research and therapy in Africa should be focused in terms of regional variations to make best use of the fiscal allocation by African governments, non-governmental organisations and international agencies.

Authors' affiliations

H A Adeola, Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, Faculty of Dentistry, University of the Western Cape and Tygerberg Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa; Division of Dermatology, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences and Groote Schuur Hospital, University of Cape Town, South Africa

A O Adefuye, Division Health Sciences Education, Office of the Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

S A Jimoh, Department of Anatomical Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, Walter Sisulu University, Mthatha, Eastern Cape, South Africa

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Cancer; Africa; Orodigestive tract; Latitude; Variations

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2018;108(4):347-351. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2018.v108i4.12908

Article History

Date submitted: 2018-03-28
Date published: 2018-03-28

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