What are we learning from the new data on cancer incidence in North Africa

Original article


Sobrato I, Busso P, Zanetti R.

Registro tumori Piemonte, Via San Francesco da Paola 31, 10123 Torino. roberto.zanetti@cpo.it.

Epidemiologia e prevenzione 2010 Jan-Apr;34(1-2):23-6.


Over a period of a few years, Cancer registries in North Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt) increased in number from one to seven. Currently they serve 9.7% of the total regional population. The pattern of risk presented by their data (which appear to be good enough, according to the available indicators) is unique. The total cancer burden in different North Africa countries is between one fourth and one half (on average one third) of the corresponding risk in Europe. The overall rate, age standardized on world population, ranges in men from 94.0/100,000 in Sètif, Algeria, to 162.9/100,000 in Garbiah, Egypt. Similar is the range of the risk between countries in women (from 84.7 and 164.0/100,000). The case mixing and the level of the site specific rates are quite homogeneous between the considered countries. The most frequent cancers are those observed in Europe (lung, breast, colon, prostate). This pattern completely differs from that of black Africa countries, where infection-related cancers predominate. The clinically well known excess risk for nasopharyngeal carcinoma in Maghrebi countries is confirmed and quantified by the presented data (with rates as high as 5.4/100,000 in men and 1.9/100,000 in women, ten times higher than in Europe).

Keywords: What are we learning from the new data on cancer incidence in North Africa