Handbook for Cancer Research in Africa

Updated: Apr 5

Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) suffers from a growing cancer burden. By the year 2030, cancer and other non-communicable diseases may overtake some infectious diseases as leading causes of death in SSA. Addressing this burden requires a multi-pronged approach that includes improved policy and funding support, improved knowledge of cancer in SSA, awareness of the cancer burden, clinical oncology infrastructure and improved cancer health systems, and cancer prevention and control strategies. Key to lowering the cancer burden in SSA is the development of cancer research that addresses these issues in the African setting. Just as the development of knowledge about cancer and its prevention and treatment have made major contributions to reducing the cancer burden in the developed world, Africa too must create knowledge that will address African-specific cancer problems for the improved health of Africans.  Realizing this goal, however, will not be easy: it will require building research resources and infrastructure as well as collaborative partnerships across countries and disciplines. It may require new methods and approaches that leverage the unique situation in SSA. It demands that new leadership, critical thinking and investment be aligned with the need to improve knowledge of cancer in SSA. Aside from the challenges, cancer research in SSA also has the potential to provide unique insight into cancer that cannot be attained anywhere else in the world. The example of the unique African contribution to the identification, understanding, and management of Burkitt lymphoma is just one example of how African science can impact cancer globally.  For cancer to be conquered in Africa, and for African scientists to contribute to the global understanding of cancer prevention and control, a new cadre of researchers must be nurtured on the African continent. There are many steps in this process: developing or enhancing research training programs; mentoring researchers through research training at multiple levels; development of research infrastructure including wet and dry laboratory facilities; creating academic tracks within institutions that will allow researchers to work in a setting that is conducive to research; and creating sustainable funding and resource models that will enable capacity for research.  While these goals may not be attained rapidly or easily, this Handbook for Cancer Research in Africa represents one small step in disseminating principles for cancer research to African scientists. The chapters are meant to serve as a guide for those who want to develop or expand careers in research in Africa. Clearly, not all relevant topics can be covered here.  The goal of this volume is to provide an introduction for researchers, who may need additional formal training and experience to realize their research goals. This volume may also be of use to those who are in a position to foster research in Africa, including non-African scientists, governmental and non-governmental agencies, and advocacy groups.  Professor Isaac Adewole Vice Chancellor, University of Ibadan, Nigeria and President, African Organization for Research and Training in Cancer (AORTIC) Summer 2013


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