Cancer patterns in Arua district, Uganda: a hospital-based retrospective study

28 Mar 2024
Bridget Angucia Sharon, Annet Nakaganda, Geriga Fadhil, Micah June, Ezra Anecho, Gilbert Aniku, Amandua Jacinto, Hesborn Wao, Jackson Orem, Onguru Daniel

Introduction: Cancer is the second leading cause of mortality with over 19 million cases and 10 million deaths worldwide. Available data on cancer patterns in Uganda are through modelling of data from two population-based cancer registries (PBCRs) representing only about 10% of the cancer situation in Uganda. This study sought to determine the common types of cancer among adults and children in Arua District over a 5-year period (2017–2021).

Methods: Retrospective cohort chart review and ‘catchment population approach’ were employed. All newly diagnosed cancer patients from Arua between 2017 and 2021 were included in this study. Data were collected using Redcap whereas management and analysis were conducted using Stata 17. Cancer patterns were computed as frequencies and percentages and the interest was in finding out the common cancers among adults (above 19 years) and children (0–19 years).

Results: Over the 5-year study period, a total of 1,118 new cancer cases were registered, with slightly more females (52.1%). The top five common cancers irrespective of sex and age were: liver cancer (13.7%), cervical (11.8%), breast (10.7%), oesophagus (10.5%) and Burkitt’s lymphoma (BL) (6.4%). In this study, 15.3% (n = 171) of the study participants were children. The top five common childhood cancers included BL (42%), leukemia (10.5%), other lymphomas (9.4%), osteosarcoma (4.7%) and nephroblastoma (3%).

Conclusion: There is a high incidence of liver cancer in Arua district. The high levels of cervical, breast and oesophagus cancer were consistent with what is reported by the two PBCRs in Uganda. However, BL could be due to the presence of a BL treatment centre at Kuluva hospital in Arua. Cancer interventions in Arua should therefore be targeted towards liver, cervix, breast, and oesophagus cancer and furthering research on the reason for the high incidence of liver cancer.

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