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Study: Cancer cases rise at alarming rate

Cases of breast and prostate cancer are increasing at an alarming rate in Kenya, says a new study.

The study, published in the journal JAMA Oncology, says the number of new prostate cancer cases in Kenya more than tripled between 1990 and 2013, up from 546 to 2,127 while during this same period, breast cancer cases among women increased from 1,881 to 4,499.

Among men, stomach cancer had the lowest rate of increase since 1990 at 51 per cent and prostate cancer the highest at 290 per cent.

For women, new cases of stomach cancer during this period decreased by 11 per cent and breast cancer had one of the highest increases at 139 per cent.

Published on Thursday, the study, The Global Burden of Cancer 2013, was conducted by an international consortium of researchers coordinated by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington.


In Kenya, oesophageal cancer was the leading cause of cancer deaths among men and for women, it is followed by cervical cancer.

Male deaths from oesophageal cancer outnumbered deaths from all other cancers in Kenya, at 1,423 in 2013, while cervical cancer took more women, at 2,007.

“Cancer is a growing threat to people’s health around the world,” said an oncologist, Dr Christina Fitzmaurice, a visiting fellow at IHME and lead author of the study.

Deaths among Kenyan men from prostate cancer increased by 108 per cent, compared to a 50 per cent increase from stomach cancer.

Deaths from pancreatic cancer in women jumped by 111 per cent, while the number of deaths from stomach cancer decreased by 11 per cent.

Kenya differed from most countries with respect to new cases of oesophageal and mouth cancers.

Oesophageal cancer ranked 10th in the top 10 for incident cases globally, but ranked third in Kenya.

In addition, mouth cancer was not ranked in the top 10 for incident cases globally, but ranked eighth in Kenya for men and women combined.

Unlike most countries, Kenya was one of 35 countries in which age-standardised incidence rates for all cancers decreased rather than increased.


In 2013, there were 14.9 million new cancer cases and 8.2 million cancer deaths worldwide.

The leading cause of cancer incidence for men was prostate cancer, which caused 1.4 million new cases and 293,000 deaths.

Lung cancer remained one of the leading cases among men between 1990 and 2013, but prostate cancer increased more than threefold during this period due, in part, to population growth and ageing.

For women, similar factors contributed to the global rise in breast cancer. In 2013 there were 1.8 million new cases of breast cancer and 464,000 deaths.

Breast cancer has remained the leading cause of cancer for women between 1990 and 2013, but the number of new cases more than doubled during this period.

Other leading cancers globally include cervical, up nine per cent since 1990, lymphoma, up 105 per cent, and colon and rectum cancer, which have increased 92 per cent.

The death toll from cancer is also on the rise.

In 2013, cancer was the second leading cause of death globally after cardiovascular diseases, and the proportion of deaths around the world due to cancer has increased from 12 per cent in 1990 to 15 per cent in 2013.

Lung, stomach and liver cancers have remained the three leading causes of illness for both sexes combined during this period.

Lung cancer deaths have increased by 56 per cent, stomach cancer deaths by 10 per cent and liver cancer deaths by 60 per cent.

SOURCE: Daily Nation