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J Registry Manag. 2013 Summer;40(2):70-7.

Establishing effective registration systems in resource-limited settings: cancer registration in Kumasi, Ghana.


Cancer control programs are needed worldwide to combat the increases in cancer incidence and mortality predicted for sub-Saharan Africa in the next decades. The effective design, implementation, and evaluation of such programs require population-based cancer registries. Ghana's second largest medical center, the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi, has made initial progress at developing a cancer registry. This registry, however, is housed in the medical oncology/radiotherapy center at KATH and does not currently include data from other departments that also interact with cancer patients. The aim of this study was to improve KATH cancer registration by compiling cancer data from other major departments that see cancer patients. Using recent population estimates, we calculated crude cancer incidence rates of the "minimally-reported cases" for the Ashanti region. The most common cancers found in this study were breast (12.6 per 100,000), cervix (9.2 per 100,000), and prostate (8.8 per 100,000). These cancers occur at similar crude incidence rates in other West African countries. Females had overall higher incidence rates than males, which is consistent throughout the West African region. This study identified a number of methodological challenges facing cancer registries in Ghana that can be addressed to improve the quality of cancer registries in other resource-limited settings. Such registries should be tailored to the local health system context. A lack of coordination among the sources reporting cancer cases and a lack of understanding of local health-care systems and payment plans may interfere with the quality, completeness, and comparability of data from cancer registries in resource-limited settings. Steps, barriers, and solutions for improving cancer registration in Ghana and countries at similar levels are discussed.

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