Setting Basic epidemiological information on childhood cancer in Western Kenya is lacking. This deficit obstructs efforts to improve the care and survival rates of children in this part of the world.
Objective Our study provides an overview of childhood cancer patients presenting for treatment in Western Kenya.
Design A retrospective analysis of childhood cancer patients presenting for treatment in Western Kenya was carried out using information from three separate databases at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret. All patients aged 0–19 years first presenting between January 2006 and January 2010 with a newly diagnosed malignancy were included.
Results A total of 436 children with cancer were registered during the period. There were 256 (59%) boys and 180 (41%) girls with a male/female ratio of 1.4:1. The group aged 6–10 years contained most children (29%). Median age at admission was 8 years. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma was the most common type of cancer (34%), followed by acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (15%), Hodgkin's lymphoma (8%), nephroblastoma (8%), rhabdomyosarcoma (7%), retinoblastoma (5%) and Kaposi's sarcoma (5%). Only four (1%) children with brain tumours were documented. Ewing's sarcoma was not diagnosed.
Conclusions Our study provides an overview of childhood cancer patients presenting for treatment in Western Kenya. The distribution of malignancies is similar to findings from other equatorial African countries but differs markedly from studies in high-income countries. The new comprehensive cancer registration system will be continued and extended to serve as the basis for an evidence-based oncology program. Eventually this may lead to improved clinical outcomes.
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Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.