Age-standardised incidence rate and epidemiology of colorectal cancer in Africa: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Nina Arhin, Paddy Ssentongo*, Morris Taylor, Elizabeth Josephine Olecki, Colette Pameijer, Chan Shen, John Oh, Cathy Eng

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Objectives Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths globally, with low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs) disproportionately affected. Estimates of CRC rates in LMIC are scarce. We aimed to (1) estimate sex-specific incidence of CRC, (2) estimate temporal trend and (3) determine regional variations of CRC rates on the African continent. Design Systematic review and meta-analysis Methods PubMed (MEDLINE), OVID (MEDLINE), Scopus and Cochrane Library databases were systematically searched from inception to 12 December 2020. We included population-based studies that reported the incidence or prevalence estimates of CRC in Africa. Studies not conducted in humans or did not directly report the rates of CRC were excluded. Random effects model was used to pool the estimates. The methodological quality of studies was assessed with the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale. Outcome measures Overall and sex-specific annual age-standardised incidence rates (ASIR) of CRC per 100 000 population. Results The meta-analysis included 14 studies consisting of 3365 individuals with CRC (mean age, 58 years, 53% male). The overall ASIR of CRC in Africa per 100 000 population was 5.25 (95% CI 4.08 to 6.75). The rates were slightly higher in males (4.76) than in females (4.18), but not significantly different. Subgroup analysis indicated greater point estimates in North Africa (8.66) compared with sub-Saharan Africa (5.91); and higher estimates in Eastern (8.29) and Northern (8.66) Africa compared with Western (3.55) and Southern (3.57) Africa, but not statistically significant. The overall trend in ASIR has remained constant at nearly 5 per 100 000 population for the last 6 decades. Conclusion CRC estimates in Africa are heterogeneous and could be underestimated. High-quality data collection systems such as population-based cancer registries may facilitate accurate estimation of country-specific rates and provide critical information which would be lucrative to the consideration of resources needed for screening, early detection, treatment and improving overall patient outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere052376
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number1
StatePublished - 17 Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes


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