Mapping of Radiation Oncology and Gynecologic Oncology Services Available to Treat the Growing Burden of Cervical Cancer in Africa

Chidinma P. Anakwenze, Emma Allanson, Agnes Ewongwo, Christian Lumley, Lisa Bazzett-Matabele, Susan C. Msadabwe, Paul Kamfwa, Tarek Shouman, Dorothy Lombe, Fidel Rubagumya, Alfredo Polo, Atara Ntekim, Verna Vanderpuye, Rahel Ghebre, Lofti Kochbati, Munir Awol, Freddy Houéhanou Rodrigue Gnangnon, Leon Snyman, Joël Fokom Domgue, Luca IncrocciNtokozo Ndlovu, Malala Razakanaivo, May Abdel-Wahab, Edward Trimble, Kathleen Schmeler, Hannah Simonds, Surbhi Grover*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose: To meet the demand for cervical cancer care in Africa, access to surgical and radiation therapy services needs to be understood. We thus mapped the availability of gynecologic and radiation therapy equipment and staffing for treating cervical cancer. Methods and Materials: We collected data on gynecologic and radiation oncology staffing, equipment, and infrastructure capacities across Africa. Data was obtained from February to July 2021 through collaboration with international partners using Research Electronic Data Capture. Cancer incidence was taken from the International Agency for Research on Cancer's GLOBOCAN 2020 database. Treatment capacity, including the numbers of radiation oncologists, radiation therapists, physicists, gynecologic oncologists, and hospitals performing gynecologic surgeries, was calculated per 1000 cervical cancer cases. Adequate capacity was defined as 2 radiation oncologists and 2 gynecologic oncologists per 1000 cervical cancer cases. Results: Forty-three of 54 African countries (79.6%) responded, and data were not reported for 11 countries (20.4%). Respondents from 31 countries (57.4%) reported access to specialist gynecologic oncology services, but staffing was adequate in only 11 countries (20.4%). Six countries (11%) reported that generalist obstetrician-gynecologists perform radical hysterectomies. Radiation oncologist access was available in 39 countries (72.2%), but staffing was adequate in only 16 countries (29.6%). Six countries (11%) had adequate staffing for both gynecologic and radiation oncology; 7 countries (13%) had no radiation or gynecologic oncologists. Access to external beam radiation therapy was available in 31 countries (57.4%), and access to brachytherapy was available in 25 countries (46.3%). The number of countries with training programs in gynecologic oncology, radiation oncology, medical physics, and radiation therapy were 14 (26%), 16 (30%), 11 (20%), and 17 (31%), respectively. Conclusions: We identified areas needing comprehensive cervical cancer care infrastructure, human resources, and training programs. There are major gaps in access to radiation oncologists and trained gynecologic oncologists in Africa.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)595 - 604
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number3
Early online date18 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2024

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