135IN - Cancer research in Africa

Date 01 October 2012
Event ESMO Congress 2012
Session ESMO DCTF-AORTIC-SLACOM-UICC-WHO Joint Symposium: Independent and publicly funded research: a new global model
Topics Bioethics, Legal, and Economic Issues
Presenter Verna Vanderpuye
Authors V.D.N.K. Vanderpuye
  • Radiotherapy, Korlebu Teaching Hospital, GH- - Accra/GH


Cancer remains a public health challenge worldwide, and its fast rising nature in Africa is occasioned by the changing demographic and environmental characteristics. The epidemic is further propelled by HIV/AIDS, poverty and ignorance within the continent. At the moment, cancer is currently responsible for more than 7 million deaths per year. By 2030, it is projected that cancer alone will account for about 1.27 million new cases and about a million deaths per annum.

Disease prioritization is often a product of cutting edge research, and it is also a driver for follow-up implementations. The differential opportunity for sound translational research between developed countries and Africa is one of the key causal factors responsible for disease outcome between the two settings. At moment, the quality of cancer research is yet to offer the much-needed platform to generate a momentum for cancer prioritization in Africa. Cancer research from Africa is mostly donor funded, lacks depth of contextual framework - sociocultural, minimal multi-national outlook, lean basic science component, and low translational potential. Other challenges include poor research friendly environment (laboratory, incentives and recognition); lack of mentoring programs, public funding comparable to NIH is non-existence, lack of robust cancer registry with necessary resources, and poor political support. The African Organisation for Research and Training in Cancer (AORTIC) has the vision of transforming the orientation of cancer researchers within the continent through provision of research capacity building opportunities, generation of a critical mass of cancer researchers that will form the core of the network, leading advocacy for local funding of cancer research in Africa, and promotion of center of excellence in cancer research at national and sub-regional level. It is imperative that cancer research in Africa charts a course that is visionary, pragmatic, multidisciplinary and sustainable as well as avoiding a “one perch approach”. A holistic approach to cancer research that will use both inductive and deductive reasoning philosophy is hereby advocated.


The author has declared no conflicts of interest.