Challenges and opportunities in cancer control in Africa: a perspective from the African Organisation for Research and Training in Cancer

Lancet Oncol. 2013 Apr;14(4):e142-51. doi: 10.1016/S1470-2045(12)70482-5.


Sub-Saharan Africa has a disproportionate burden of disease and faces a major public-health challenge from non-communicable diseases. Although infectious diseases continue to afflict Africa, the proportion of the overall disease burden in sub-Saharan Africa attributable to cancer is rising. The region is predicted to have a greater than 85% increase in cancer burden by 2030. Approaches to minimise the burden of cancer in sub-Saharan Africa in the past few years have had little success because of low awareness of the cancer burden and a poor understanding of the potential for cancer prevention. Success will not be easy, and will need partnerships and bridges to be built across countries, economies, and professions. A strategic approach to cancer control in sub-Saharan Africa is needed to build on what works there and what is unique to the region. It should ideally be situated within strong, robust, and sustainable health-care systems that offer quality health care to all people, irrespective of their social or economic standing. However, to achieve this will need new leadership, critical thinking, investment, and understanding. We discuss the present situation in sub-Saharan Africa and propose ideas to advance cancer control in the region, including the areas of cancer awareness, advocacy, research, workforce, care, training, and funding.

MeSH terms

  • Africa South of the Sahara / epidemiology
  • Delivery of Health Care*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Public Health*
  • Risk Factors