Cancer has been named as the leading cause of death worldwide. According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), Cancer accounted for 7. 9 million, about 13% of all the deaths worldwide with more than 70% in low and middle-level income countries. In Kenya, Cancer is ranked third as a cause of death after infectious diseases and cardiovascular diseases. Although Kenya has no population based data, it is estimated that there are 28, 000 reported cases of cancer with an annual mortality of over 22, 000 (7%). It is approximated that over 60% of those infected with cancer are below the age of 70 with a 14% risk of getting cancer before the age of 75. The risk of dying with cancer is at 12%. The rapid cases of cancer in Kenya have resulted from exposure to risk factors such as, harmful use of alcohol, tobacco use, exposure to environmental carcinogens, physical inactivity, poor nutrition, overweight and HIV/AIDS, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), Hepatitis B & C, bacterial infections and parasitic infestations. The most common cancers affecting women are breast, cervical and oesophagus while in men it is the oesophagus, prostrate and Kaposi Sarcoma. According to National Cancer Registry, of all the cancer registered, breast cancer accounted for 23%, cervical at 20% and prostrate at 9. 4% in 2002.
Nature and magnitude of the problem
According to International Atomic Energy Agency (2010), Kenya has a dire cancer situation with lack of Medical Practitioners and a large number of cancer cases diagnosed annually. Statistics conducted in Kenya reported that, 50 Kenyans die daily from various forms of cancer but there are no studies being conducted to explain the increase in prevalence and incidences of the cancer situation. According to Pact Kenya Cancer Assessment in Africa and Asia (2010), there are about 80, 000 cases of cancer reported annually. It is heartbreaking that most of the cancers are diagnosed at a very late stage when very little or nothing can be done. Cancer in young Kenyans is on the increase compared to the past when it was considered a disease of the young. Children are mostly affected by the cancer of the blood (leukemia).
Cancer is associated with socio-economic status; they are highly found in people of low social economic status than those of the higher social economic status. In relation to that, cancer survival is lower in the poor than in those of higher social status. Risk factors associated with cancer can be categorized into;
Behavioral risk factors which include, harmful use of alcohol, poor dieting, physical inactivity and tobacco use.
Environmental factors that involves exposure to carcinogens such as chemicals, infectious agents and radiation.
Biological risk factors such as, age, obesity, sex of a person and their generic make up.
Economic and Social Health consequences
Over the years, cancer has not been seriously considered as an epidemic in the low and middle level income country and therefore there is no specific data on the cases of cancer, and countries often have to work with estimates. In this case, the impact of cancer is estimated from the following;
That cancer account to more deaths in the country than HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria combined.
In 2008, the low and middle income countries registered 56% of new cancer cases and 64% of cancer cases.
More than 80% of people with cancer in the low and middle income countries die compared to 30% of those living in high income countries.
Department of Research-situational analysis of cancer in Kenya.(2012). web
Ministry of Medical Services-Multidisciplinary Cancer Management Conference. 2012. web
Gerald Yonga-Kenya Cardiac Society.(2012) Retrieved from
Alice M. Musibi-Medical Oncology Research Officer. 2012. web january 2008