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Figure 1. Most common cancer sites in Africa by country are shown for 2008. Source Jemal, et al. Cancer [January 17, 2012] 00: 1-13

About Cervical and Breast Cancer

Cervical cancer is the most common type of cancer among sub-Saharan African women, where It affects younger age groups. Of the 500,000 new cases of cervical cancer that are diagnosed each year, one in every five occurs in Africa, a region of the world where cervical cancer kills more women than any other cancer type. HIV infection makes women more susceptible to developing cervical cancer, thus the burden of disease is much higher in global regions where HIV is prevalent, such as sub-Saharan Africa.


The east, central, and southern regions of Africa have some of the highest incidence rates of cervical cancer in the world, making the area the epicenter of the disease. Incidence rates in Zambia are the second highest in the world.


Breast cancer is the most common cancer reported in women worldwide and in developing nations, the latter where it is characterized by occurrence at younger ages. Breast cancer rates in Africa are on the rise and death rates are as high as those in rich nations. 

A major barrier to cervical and breast cancer control in Africa is the lack of accessible and affordable screening and treatment facilities. Other barriers include lack of awareness of the early signs and symptoms, the belief that cancer has a supernatural origin, and is always fatal.


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