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Although the countries of Sub-Sharan Africa represent among the most rapidly growing and aging populations worldwide, no previous studies have examined the cancer patterns in older adults in the region as a means to inform cancer policies. Using data from Cancer Incidence in Five Continents, we describe recent patterns and trends in incidence rates for the major cancer sites in adults aged ≥60 years and in people aged 0-59 for comparison in four selected population-based cancer registries in Kenya (Nairobi), the Republic of South Africa (Eastern Cape Province), Uganda (Kyadondo country), and Zimbabwe (Harare blacks). Over the period 2008-2012, almost 9,000 new cancer cases were registered in older adults in the four populations, representing one-third of all cancer cases. Prostate and esophageal cancers were the leading cancer sites in older males, while breast, cervical and esophageal cancers were the most common among older females. Among younger people, Kaposi sarcoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma were common. Over the past 20 years, incidence rates among older adults have increased in both sexes in Uganda and Zimbabwe while rates have stabilized among the younger age group. Among older adults, the largest rate increase was observed for breast cancer (estimated annual percentage change: 5% in each country) in females and for prostate cancer (6-7%) in males. Due to the specific needs of older adults, tailored considerations should be given to geriatric oncology when developing, funding and implementing national and regional cancer programmes.

Original publication




Journal article


Int J Cancer

Publication Date





1824 - 1833


epidemiology, neoplasms, older adults, population-based cancer registries, sub-Saharan Africa, Adolescent, Adult, Africa South of the Sahara, Age Factors, Child, Child, Preschool, Female, Health Policy, Health Services Needs and Demand, Humans, Incidence, Infant, Infant, Newborn, Male, Middle Aged, Neoplasms, Registries, Young Adult