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West Africa records 57% of undiagnosed child cancer cases

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About 57 per cent of childhood cancer cases in West Africa and more than half of global incidents of the disease go undiagnosed.

Besides Mali and Cameroon, Nigeria and other West African countries do not have available public registry data on childhood cancers.

A cancer registry is a systematic collection of data about cancer and tumor diseases. The Nigerian National System of Cancer Registries (NSCR) was established in 2009 but there is little or no information on childhood cancers in the country.

The new analysis published in the journal-The Lancet Oncology revealed a huge disparity in the number of undiagnosed cases globally and estimated that in Western Europe and North America, only three per cent of cases are missed, while in south Asia and West Africa, that figure rises to 49 per cent and 57 per cent.

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Using data from the World Health Organisation (WHO), the researchers from Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States (U.S.), said in 2015, no fewer than 397,000 children under 15 developed cancer globally- and that 43 per cent of them were not diagnosed.

Previous estimates also suggested that 200,000 children worldwide are diagnosed with cancer yearly even as the researchers predicted that 6.7 million children will develop cancer globally by 2030, while 2.9 million of them will die if health-care systems do not improve.

The scientists said figures are much higher than those from official cancer registries, meaning that tens of thousands of children go without treatment each year and potentially die from the disease without knowledge of having it.

“The true number of cancer cases in many countries is hard to pin down, because most do not record such data. In West Africa, for example, only Mali and Cameroon have available public registry data on childhood cancers. In countries that have registries, many cases might be missed, and therefore, go undocumented,” they wrote.


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