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Ann Afr Med. 2018 Jul-Sep;17(3):99-105. doi: 10.4103/aam.aam_48_17.

A review of bladder cancer in Sub-Saharan Africa: A different disease, with a distinct presentation, assessment, and treatment.

Author information

Department of Surgery, Copperbelt University School of Medicine, Ndola, Zambia.
Department of Pathology, Copperbelt University School of Medicine, Ndola, Zambia.
Department of Surgery, Livingstone Central Hospital, Livingstone, Zambia.
Department of Surgery, Ndola Teaching Hospital, Ndola, Zambia.
Department of Surgery, University Teaching Hospital, Lusaka, Zambia.


in English, French


Cancer of the bladder is the ninth leading cause of cancer in developed countries. It is the second most common urological malignancy. Transitional cell carcinoma (TCC) is the most common histological subtype in developed countries. In most of Africa, the most common type is squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Cancer of bladder guidelines produced by the European Urological Association and the American Urological Association, including the tumor, node, and metastasis staging is focused on TCC of the bladder.


The purpose of the study is to review the pathogenesis, pathology, presentation, and management of cancer of the bladder in Africa and to use this information to propose a practical staging system for SCC.


The study used the meta-analysis guideline provided by PRISMA using bladder cancer in Africa as the key search word. The study collected articles available on PubMed as of July 2017, Africa Online and Africa Index Medicus. PRISMA guidelines were used to screen for full-length hospital-based articles on cancer of the bladder in Africa. These articles were analyzed under four subcategories which were pathogenesis, pathology, clinical presentation, and management. The information extracted was pooled and used to propose a practical staging system for use in African settings.


The result of evaluation of 821 articles yielded 23 full-length papers on hospital-based studies of cancer of the bladder in Africa. Cancer of the bladder in most of Africa is still predominantly SCC (53%-69%). There has been a notable increase in TCC in Africa (9%-41%). The pathogenesis is mostly schistosoma-related SCC presents late with painful hematuria and necroturia (20%). SCC responds poorly to chemotherapy or radiotherapy. The main management of SCC is open surgery. This review allowed for a practical organ-based stage of SCC of the bladder that can be used in Africa.


Bladder cancer in Africa presents differently from that in developed countries. Guidelines on cancer of the bladder may need to take account of this to improve bladder cancer management in Africa.


Africa; bladder carcinoma; squamous cell carcinoma; transitional cell carcinoma

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