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Open Access Research article

Cancer mortality patterns in Ghana: a 10-year review of autopsies and hospital mortality

Edwin K Wiredu12* and Henry B Armah1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pathology, University of Ghana Medical School, College of Health Sciences, University of Ghana, Korle-Bu, Accra, Ghana

2 School of Allied Health Sciences, College of Health Sciences, University of Ghana, Korle-Bu, Accra, Ghana

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BMC Public Health 2006, 6:159  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-6-159

Published: 20 June 2006

Abstract

Background

Cancer mortality pattern in Ghana has not been reviewed since 1953, and there are no population-based data available for cancer morbidity and mortality patterns in Ghana due to the absence of a population-based cancer registry anywhere in the country.

Methods

A retrospective review of autopsy records of Department of Pathology, and medical certificate of cause of death books from all the wards of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH), Accra, Ghana during the 10-year period 1991–2000 was done.

Results

The present study reviews 3659 cancer deaths at the KBTH over the 10-year period. The male-to-female ratio was 1.2:1. The mean age for females was 46.5 [Standard Deviation (SD), 20.8] years, whilst that of males was 47.8 (SD, 22.2) years. The median age was 48 years for females and 50 years for males.Both sexes showed a first peak in childhood, a drop in adolescence and young adulthood, and a second peak in the middle ages followed by a fall in the elderly, with the second peak occurring a decade earlier in females than in males. The commonest cause of cancer death in females was malignancies of the breast [Age-Standardized Cancer Ratio (ASCAR), 17.24%], followed closely by haematopoietic organs (14.69%), liver (10.97%) and cervix (8.47%). Whilst in males, the highest mortality was from the liver (21.15%), followed by prostate (17.35%), haematopoietic organs (15.57%), and stomach (7.26%).

Conclusion

Considering the little information available on cancer patterns in Ghana, this combined autopsy and death certification data from the largest tertiary hospital is of considerable value in providing reliable information on the cancer patterns in Ghana.