Review: Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma in sub-Saharan Africa
Aim Review the literature from 1990 to 2013 to determine known anatomic sites, risk factors, treatments, and outcomes of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) in sub-Saharan Africa.
Methods Using a systematic search strategy, literature pertaining to HNSCC in sub-Saharan Africa was reviewed and patient demographics, anatomic sites, histology, stage, treatment, and outcomes were abstracted. The contributions of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), human papillomavirus (HPV) and behavioural risk factors to HNSCC in the region were assessed.
Results Of the 342 papers identified, 46 were utilized for review, including 8611 patients. In sub-Saharan Africa, the oropharyngeal/oral cavity was found to be the most common site, with 7750 cases (90% of all cases). Few papers distinguished oropharyngeal from oral cavity, making identification of possible HPV-associated oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) difficult. SCC of the nasopharynx, nasal cavity, or paranasal sinuses was identified in 410 patients (4.8% of all cases). Laryngeal SCC was found in 385 patients (4.5% of all cases), and only 66 patients (0.8% of all cases) with hypopharyngeal SCC were identified. In 862 patients with data available, 43% used tobacco and 42% used alcohol, and reported use varied widely and was more common in laryngeal SCC than that of the oropharyngeal/oral cavity. Toombak and kola nut use was reported to be higher in patients with HNSCC. Several papers reported HIV-positive patients with HNSCC, but it was not possible to determine HNSCC prevalence in HIV-positive compared to negative patients. Reports of treatment and outcomes were rare.
Conclusions The oropharyngeal/oral cavity was by far the most commonly reported site of HNSCC reported in sub-Saharan Africa. The roles of risk factors in HNSCC incidence in sub-Saharan Africa were difficult to delineate from the available studies, but a majority of patients did not use tobacco and alcohol.