Trends in the incidence of cancer in Kampala, Uganda 1991–2010

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The Kampala cancer registry is the longest established in Africa. Trends in incidence rates for a 20-year period (1991–2010) for Kyadondo County (Kampala city and a rural hinterland) illustrate the effects of changing lifestyles in urban Africa, and the effects of the epidemic of HIV-AIDS. There has been an overall increase in the risk of cancer during the period in both sexes, with incidence rates of major cancers such as breast and prostate showing particularly marked increases (3.7% and 5.2% annually, respectively). In the 1960s cancer of the oesophagus was the most common cancer of men (and second in women), and incidence in the last 20 years has not declined. Cancer of the cervix, always the most frequent cancer of women, has shown an increase over the period (1.8% per year), although the rates appear to have declined in the last 4 years. HIV prevalence in adults in Uganda fell from a maximum in 1992 to a minimum (about 6%) in 2004, and has risen a little subsequently, while availability of antiretroviral drugs has risen sharply in recent years. Incidence of Kaposi sarcoma in men fell until about 2002, and has been relatively constant since then, while in women there has been a continuing decline since 2000. Other HIV related cancers—non-Hodgkin lymphoma of younger adults, and squamous cell carcinoma of conjunctiva—have shown major increases in incidence, although the former (NHL) has shown a small decline in incidence in the most recent 2 years.

What's new?

Little information is available on trends in cancer incidence from sub-Saharan Africa. To help rectify that situation, the authors of the present study examined cancer incidence trends over a 20-year period in Kyadondo County, which includes Kampala, the capital of Uganda, using data from the Kampala Cancer Registry. Some trends were expected, such as an increase in cancers associated with Western lifestyles. Other trends, however, such as a lack of decline in cancers of the cervix, esophagus, and stomach, which are associated with poverty, were surprising. In addition, HIV-related cancers showed only modest or no recent decline.

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