Frequency of cancer distribution in Somalia: A four-year retrospective epidemiological study

Authors: Abdifetah Ibrahim Omar

Published 17 June 2021, African journal of Health and Medical Sciences


Cancer ranks the leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, with approximately 19.3 million new cases and 10 million deaths. The most common causes of cancer death were cancers of the lung (1.69 million deaths), liver (788,000 deaths), colorectal (774,000 deaths), stomach (754,000 deaths), and breast (571 000 deaths). Cancer rates in Somalia are underreported, national population-based cancer registry in the country is missing to conduct a nationwide prevalence study. The study aimed to estimate the prevalence of cancer and determine the most common organ affected and the existence of Benign or Metastasis among cancer patients.


The study undertook a retrospective cross-sectional design using a quantitative approach. Secondary data from patient records between January 2014 to November 2017, clinically diagnosed with cancer and referred from other hospitals to Kamil diagnostic center for radiological analysis were selected for this study in Mogadishu, Somalia.


583 registered cancer patients, 60.2% (351) were reported in men and 39.8% (232) in women. The primary cancer types were hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) which was diagnosed among 151 (26%) patients, of which 124 (82%) were male, and 27(18%) were female. HCC followed by esophageal carcinoma (EC), which was diagnosed among 97 (17%) patients, of which 50 (52%) were female, in comparison to 47 (48%) were male, followed by renal cell carcinoma (RCC), which was diagnosed among 56 (10%) patients of which 31 (55.4%) were male while 25 (44.6%) were female. Lymphoma was diagnosed in 40 (7%) patients, of which 20 (50%) were male, and 20 (50%) were female. It was also established that metastatic cancer was found among 152 (26%) patients, which is little compared to 431 (73.9%) patients whose cancer was not metastatic. The major organs of metastatic were lymph node 48 (8.2%), pulmonary and hepatic with lymph node each 22 (3.8%), and bones 20 (3.4%).


The study reveals an increasing trend of canlacer prevalence in Somalia. HCC was found to be the major type, followed by EC. The study recommends that people take timely screening and diagnosis of cancer to stand higher chances of preventing and surviving cancer death. Healthy lifestyles such as a healthy diet, avoiding tobacco, alcohol, risky behaviors, maintaining a healthy weight, vaccination (HBV and HPV), and public health efforts could stem this trend.

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