Background: Stage is the extent of spread of the cancer.To plan treatment, doctors need to know the extent (stage) of the disease. Although about a third of cancers can be cured when diagnosed at early stages, majority of cancers diagnosed in developing and low-income countries are at terminal stages where cure is often impossible.
Aim: Discuss the stages at diagnosis of common cancers diagnosed and treated at the National Center for Radiotherapy and Nuclear Medicine (NCRNM), Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), Kumasi, Ghana.
Methods: Between 2004 and 2011, a total of 4470 cancer cases were diagnosed and treated at KATH NCRNM. Out of these, only 1032 cases were staged. These staged cases were extracted from KATH NCRNM Cancer Registry. Unknown, recurrent, unstaged and not otherwise stated stages were excluded in the analysis. ICD-O-3 coding scheme was used.
Results: Estimated 23% of cancers were staged. Overall, the stages at diagnosis were: Stage I, 6.2% (n=64); Stage II, 19.3% (n=199); Stage III, 59.6% (n=615); Stage IV, 14.9% (n=154). In the order of most common, the leading cancer was cervix uteri (n=707): Stage I, 6.5% (n=46); Stage II, 22.2% (n=157); Stage III, 66.1% (n=467); Stage IV, 5.2% (n=37). Breast cancer (n=143): Stage I, 4.2% (n=6); Stage II, 15.4% (n=22); Stage III, 46.9% (n=67); Stage IV, 33.6%. Prostate (n=32): Stage II, 3.1% (n=1); Stage III, 21.9% (n=7); Stage IV, 75% (n=24). Ovary (n=30): Stage I, 3.3% (n=1); Stage II, 6.7% (n=2); Stage III, 60% (n=18); Stage IV, 30% (n=9). Lymph nodes (n=9): Stage II, 11.1% (n=1); Stage III, 55.6% (n=5); Stage IV, 33.3% (n=3).
Conclusions: More than 70% of cancer cases diagnosed were locally advanced and palliative care is the main treatment option given.
Scaling up primary and secondary prevention of cancers are the cost-effective ways of dealing wit cancers in Africa.