Characteristics of Esophageal Cancer Cases in Tanzania

J Glob Oncol. 2018 Sep;4:1-10. doi: 10.1200/JGO.2016.006619. Epub 2017 Apr 27.


Purpose: Age-standardized incidence rates for esophageal cancer (EC) in East Africa have been reported as disproportionately high compared with the worldwide incidence of nine per 100,000 population. This study aimed to characterize EC cases seen at Muhimbili National Hospital and Ocean Road Cancer Institute in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Methods: Demographic, clinical, and treatment variables were abstracted from charts of patients who received care for a diagnosis of EC at one or both institutions between 2011 and 2013. Categorical data were summarized as frequency counts and percentages. Continuous data were presented as medians and ranges. To compare men and women, Pearson's χ2 and two-sample t tests were applied.

Results: Seven hundred thirty-eight unique cases of EC were identified, of whom 68% were men and the median age was 60 years (range, 19 to 95 years). Notably, 93 cases (13%) were ≤ 40 years old at diagnosis. Squamous cell carcinoma was the dominant histology, comprising 90% of cases with documented histopathology. However, 34% of cases with a diagnosis of EC were not pathologically confirmed. The stage was documented as locoregional in 4% of cases, locally advanced in 20% of cases, metastatic in 14% of cases, and unknown in 63% of cases. Of 430 patients who received treatment at Ocean Road Cancer Institute, 76% were treated with radiation, 44% were treated with chemotherapy, 3% underwent a cancer-related surgical procedure, and 10% of cases received no cancer-directed therapy. The median overall survival for all patients was 6.9 months (95% CI, 5.0 to 12.8), regardless of stage at presentation.

Conclusion: Between 2011 and 2013, cases of EC represented a large clinical burden at both institutions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell* / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell* / therapy
  • Esophageal Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Esophageal Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Analysis
  • Tanzania / epidemiology
  • Young Adult