Malawi is said to have the highest cervical cancer incidence and mortality in the world and the highest proportion of penile cancers in Eastern and southern Africa.
This is according to brief presentation abstracts for the second annual Malawi Cancer Symposium currently taking place in Lilongwe.
The abstracts say the current age-standardised rate for cervical cancer is 75.9 per 100 000 population while mortality is at 49.8 per 100 000 population.
They further state that the country has the most incidence of penile cancer in Eastern and southern Africa, which comprises Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and South Africa, among others.
Yet, Malawi has only two urologists based at Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) serving the nation of 17 million people.
Read the abstracts in part: “The burden of one in 10 is quite significant considering that only two urologists are serving the 16 million-plus population at KCH. This needs to be carefully investigated.”
A recent study by KCH consultant urologist Dr. Charles Mabedi and others found that mortality attributable to cancer in the general population is poorly understood due to lack of a vital registration system.
It states that women, who are co-infected with HIV and high risk-human papillomavirus, are more likely to develop aggressive cervical cancers and are less likely to respond to treatment.
But Mabedi and others decry lack of cancer registry to track cancer cases in the country.
They note that a population-based cancer registry is only well established in the Southern Region while registries in the Central and Northern regions are based on tertiary hospital level data only.
Ministry of Health principal secretary Dr. Dan Namarika said government is working hard to contain cancer.
The second annual Malawi Cancer Symposium has attracted delegates and doctors from South Africa, Zambia and United States of America, among others.