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Kenya tops Uganda and Tanzania in cancer deaths



  • Kenya accounts for 32,987 deaths a year, about 40pc of the 83,426 cases reported in the three East African countries.

Kenya has the highest number of cancer-related deaths across East Africa, new data by the World Health Organisation(WHO) showed.

Cancer kills 32,987 Kenyans a year, an estimated 40 per cent of the 83,426 deaths reported in the three EA countries of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, according to the WHO’s Globocan report that analyses new cases among men and women.

Tanzania comes second with 28,610 cases while Uganda had the least deaths with 21,829 or slightly above 25 per cent of all the cases reported by the three countries.

Cancer of the cervix (cervix uteri) is the leading killer of all cancers in East Africa accounting for 14,282 deaths, nearly double the number of people who died from the second-highest killer, oesophagus cancer.

Prostate, breast and Kaposi sarcoma complete the list of the five-leading cancer killers in the three countries.

Oesophagus cancer is the leading in Kenya, with 4,351 deaths registered every year — more than double the number recorded in Uganda.

Tanzania had 6,695 deaths or 46 per cent of the total deaths registered in the region last year, according to the report.

The East African nation, which is listed by WHO in the top five African countries most hit by cervix uteri, rolled out a countrywide vaccination campaign to address the ailment that affects females. The campaign that started in April, targets to give the Human Papilloma Virus (HPC) vaccine to girls aged at least 14 years.

Uganda leads regionally in deaths from Kaposi sarcoma, a type of cancer that mostly affects people with immune deficiencies such as HIV and AIDs. The country had 2,159 deaths or nearly half of the total 4,485 recorded last year.

Cervix uteri however remains the biggest killer cancer in Uganda accounting for 4,301 deaths every year.

Cancer of the bladder is the least cause of concern across the region for the 13 cancer-types sampled, accounting for 1,230 deaths every year.

Over-stretched facilities to serve an increasing number of patients and lack of adequate funding to set up treatment centres are the major challenges facing the region. Kenyatta National Hospital(KNH), the largest referral facility in Eastern and Central Africa, is already strained by the high number of Kenyans flocking its cancer treatment facility.

The hospital has been forced to treat patients from the neighbouring countries. Kenya ha 47,887 new cancer cases every year or 39 per cent of the 122, 564 infections, followed by Tanzania with 42,060, while Uganda has 32,617.

The report further showed that Kenyan females are at the highest risk of contracting cancer in the region, with 28,688 new cases reported annually or 42 per cent of the 68,265 new infections.

A report by KNH showed that more females than males had sought treatment for cancer last year, linking the high rate of obesity among women to the rising number. Tanzania had 25,028 new cases while Uganda came a distant third with 14,549.

In Kenya and Tanzania, females are more vulnerable to getting cancer than their male counterparts.

Last year, 60 per cent of all new cancer cases in Kenya and Tanzania were females.

The Globocan report further showed that more females die of cancer than men, accounting for 56 per cent of deaths last year.