Gastric cancer in Sub-Saharan Africa – a systematic review of primary data

7 Mar 2024
Anishka Ramadhar, Phoebe N Miller, Mazvita Muchengeti, Juliana Kagura, Kathryn Chu, Cameron Gaskill

Introduction: Gastric cancer (GC) is the third leading cause of global cancer-related mortality. Despite the shifting burden of GC to low-and middle-income countries, the data regarding incidence, treatment, and outcomes in these settings are sparse. The primary aim of this systematic review was to aggregate all available data on GC in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) to describe the variability in incidence across the region.

Methods: Studies reporting population-based primary data on GC in SSA were considered. The inclusion was limited to primary studies published between January 1995 and March 2022 which comprised of adult patients in SSA with GC. Studies without accessible full text in either French or English language were excluded. Unadjusted GC incidence rates with their standard errors for each study were recalculated from the crude numerators and denominators provided in individual studies.

Results: A total of 5,626 articles were identified in the initial search, of which, 69 studies were retained. Reported incidence rates ranged from a high of 5.56 GC cases per 100,000 in Greater Meru Kenya to a low of 0.04 GC cases per 100,000 people in Benin City Nigeria. The overall crude pooled incidence was 1.20 GC cases per 100, 000 (95%CI 1.15–1.26) with a variability of 99.83% (I2 p < 0.001). From the 29 high-quality population-based registry studies the crude pooled incidence was 1.71 GC cases per 100,000 people (95%CI 1.56–21.88) with a variability of 99.60%.

Conclusion: This systemic review demonstrates that GC incidence is highly variable across SSA. The limited data on GC treatment, mortality, and survival presents a significant challenge to providing a complete epidemiologic description of the burden of GC in SSA. There is a need for further robust data collection, exploration, and research studies on cancer care in SSA, with continued assessment of primary data availability.

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