Prevalence of prostate cancer at autopsy in Nigeria-A preliminary report

Prostate. 2021 Jun;81(9):553-559. doi: 10.1002/pros.24133. Epub 2021 Apr 27.


Background and objectives: Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Nigerian men despite the lack of PSA based screening. Current prevalence estimates in Nigeria are based on cancer registry data obtained primarily from hospital admissions and therefore not truly reflective of prostate cancer incidence. Prior autopsy series did not adhere to modern pathologic quality practices. The aim of this study was to explore the prevalence of asymptomatic prostate cancer among Nigerian men at the time of autopsy.

Methods: Prostates were collected at autopsy at the Universities of Lagos and Calabar Teaching Hospitals from men aged more than 40 who died from causes other than prostate cancer. Thirty-nine prostates from Nigerian men autopsied in 2017 to 2018 were formalin-fixed, weighed, and sliced at 4 mm intervals. Haematoxylin and eosin-stained paraffin sections were prepared from these slices. Presence and Gleason grade of prostatic adenocarcinomas and presence of high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (HGPIN) were recorded.

Results: Mean age of cases was 55 ± 11 years and mean prostatic weight was 23.0 ± 10.9 g. The crude prevalence of HGPIN was 20.6%. Overall crude prevalence of prostate cancer was 8.8% (n = 34), increasing from 8.3% for men aged 40-59 (n = 23) to 10.0% for men ≥60 years old (n = 10). Two tumors were small and had Gleason Grade 3 + 3 or 3 + 4, and one large stage T3 tumor with Gleason Grade 4 + 3 disease and neuroendocrine appearance was found in a 54-year-old man.

Conclusions: The 8.8% prevalence of subclinical prostate cancer at autopsy was similar to previously reported Nigerian studies with more limited tissue sampling (6.7%-10%), but considerably lower than estimates in other populations, including African Americans. Our findings suggest that latent, clinically asymptomatic prostate cancer is less frequent in Nigerians than in African Americans, despite shared genetic ancestry. Future studies with increased sample size are warranted to provide insight in the natural history and true prevalence of prostate cancer in West Africa.

Keywords: Nigeria; autopsy; prevalence; prostate cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma* / epidemiology
  • Adenocarcinoma* / pathology
  • Autopsy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Grading
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Nigeria / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Prostate / pathology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms* / pathology