The cancer burden is rising globally, exerting significant strain on populations and health systems at all income levels. In Kenya, cancer is the 3rd leading cause of death after infectious and cardiovascular diseases. The International Agency for Research in Cancer (IARC) GLOBOCAN report for 2018 estimated 47,887 new cases of cancer annually with a mortality of 32,987.
This represents close to 45% increase in incidence compared to the previous report that estimated 37,000 new cancer cases annually with an annual mortality of 28,500 in 2012. Breast, cervix uteri, oesophagus, prostate and colorectum are the leading types of new cancer cases in both males and females across all ages, with oesophageal cancer being the leading cause of cancer deaths, followed by cervical cancer and then breast cancer.
It is sad to note that 70-80% of cancer patients in Kenya are diagnosed at an advanced disease when it is not amenable to cure. Cancer is a critical global health and human issue. Today, 9.6 million people each year will die from cancer. This number is predicted to almost double by 2030; making it the second-deadliest disease. 70% of cancer deaths occur in low-to-middle income countries. Less than 30% of low income countries have cancer treatment services available (compared to 90% in high-income countries).
Up to 3.7 million lives could be saved each year through resource appropriate strategies for prevention, early detection and timely and quality treatment. Yet, at least one third of cancers can be prevented. This is part of the justification to improve the face of health in our society by creating cancer awareness and early detection through screening and healthy lifestyles modifications towards a cancer free society.