Cancer is emerging as a major public health problem in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) because of population aging and growth, as well as increased prevalence of key risk factors, including those associated with social and economic transition. A high residual burden of infectious agents (HIV/ AIDS, human papillomavirus, hepatitis B virus) in certain SSA countries still drives the rates of certain cancers; about one-third of all cancers in the region are estimated to be infection-related.
In females, the numbers of cases and rates of breast and cervical cancer are almost equal and comprise 50% of the overall cancer burden in SSA. In males, cancer of the prostate dominates in terms of the number of cases (51,900 cases, 27.9% of the total estimated cases in the region), followed by liver cancer (10.6% of the total) and Kaposi sarcoma (6.6% of the total).
Breast and cervical cancer in women and prostate cancer in men are the major cancers that define the overall risk of developing and dying from cancer in SSA. Around one in 26 women will develop cervical cancer in their lifetime, and one in 40 will die from the disease. The lifetime risks for women developing breast cancer and men developing prostate cancer are very similar to those for women developing cervical cancer, but the lifetime risk of dying from either of these two cancers (approximately one in 55) is slightly less.