Survival from childhood cancers in Eastern Africa: A population-based registry study.
Joko-Fru WY., Parkin DM., Borok M., Chokunonga E., Korir A., Nambooze S., Wabinga H., Liu B., Stefan C.
Cancers occurring in children in Africa are often underdiagnosed, or at best diagnosed late. As a result, survival is poor, even for cancers considered 'curable'. With limited population-level data, understanding the actual burden and survival from childhood cancers in Africa is difficult. In this study, we aimed at providing survival estimates for the most common types of cancers affecting children aged 0-14 years, in three population-based Eastern African registries; Harare, Zimbabwe (Kaposi sarcoma, Wilms tumour (WT), non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), retinoblastoma, and acute lymphocytic leukaemia (ALL)), Kampala, Uganda (Burkitt lymphoma, Kaposi sarcoma, WT, and retinoblastoma), and Nairobi, Kenya (ALL, retinoblastoma, WT, Burkitt lymphoma, and Hodgkin lymphoma). We included cases diagnosed within the years 1998-2009 and followed up till the end of 2011. We estimated the observed and relative survival at 1, 3, and 5 years after diagnosis. We studied 627 individual patient records. Median follow-up ranged from 2.2 months for children with Kaposi sarcoma in Harare to 30.2 months for children with ALL in Nairobi. The proportion of children lost to follow-up was highest in the first year after diagnosis. In Harare and Kampala, the 5-year relative survival was <46% for all cancer types. The 5-year relative survival was best for children in Nairobi, though with wider confidence intervals. Survival from childhood cancers in Africa is still poor, even for cancers with good prognosis and potential for cure. Supporting cancer detection, treatment, and registration activities could help improve survival chances for children with cancers in Africa.