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The state of cancer in Meru, Kenya: a retrospective study

Francis Kobia, Sciprofile linkJesse Gitaka, Francis Makokha, Moses Kamita, Joshua Kibera, Cynthia Mwenda, Gladys Mucee, Bactrin Kilingo
Published: 3 December 2019
AAS Open Research , Volume 2; doi:10.12688/aasopenres.13027.1

Abstract: Background: It is projected that by 2030, 70% of all cancer related deaths will occur in low-middle income countries. However, data on the state of cancer in most African countries is scanty. Cancer estimates for Kenya are based on the Nairobi and Eldoret cancer registries, leaving most parts of the country unrepresented. Lacking national coverage, these data do not accurately reflect Kenya’s cancer burden. The paucity of reliable data impedes formulation of effective cancer control strategies and cancer research prioritization. Here, we report the findings of a retrospective study of the cancer state in Meru County, Kenya. Methods: A retrospective analysis of patient files at Meru hospice was carried out. 2349 cancer cases seen at the Meru hospice between 2003 and 2018 were analyzed. Data abstracted from the records included patient age, gender and cancer type. The abstracted data was analyzed by descriptive statistics. Results: Our results indicate that cancer is almost evenly distributed across genders, with men accounting for 49% and women 51%. Stomach cancer rates are strikingly elevated and equal to those in countries with the highest stomach cancer rates globally – making it the commonest cancer in this region (14%). Among men, the most common cancers affect the prostate (18%), stomach (17%), esophagus (14%), head & neck (12%), liver (8%) and colorectum (5%). Among women, the commonest are cancers of the breast (22%), cervix (20%), stomach (11%), esophagus (8%), head & neck (6%) and liver (5%). Breast cancer occurs at a notably early age, with 20% of those affected aged below 40. Lung cancer rates are notably low in this region (1.3%) relative to world estimates. Conclusion: Cancer distribution in Meru is nearly even between sexes. Our analysis suggests that the Meru region is a stomach cancer hotspot and that it also experiences elevated esophageal cancer levels.
Keywords: Estimates / Kenya / stomach cancer / retrospective / low / Meru / Cancer Rates / Occur

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