South African Journal of Surgery

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Oesophageal squamous cell cancer in a South African tertiary hospital: a risk factor and presentation analysis

E Loots, B Sartorius, T E Madiba, C J J Mulder, D L Clarke


Background: Squamous carcinoma of the oesophagus (SCO) is the most common form of oesophageal cancer in South Africa (SA). Risk factors include male gender, smoking, alcohol consumption and low socio-economic status (SES). This study assessed the risk factors for SCO in KwaZulu-Natal.
Methodology: Information on patients managed at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital (IALCH), Durban, South Africa, between 1 October 2013 and 31 December 2014 was retrieved from a prospective database of Oesophageal Cancer (OC). Data collected included demographics, risk factors, symptoms and clinical findings.
Results: One hundred and fifty-nine patients (159) with SCO were identified. The site of tumour location was in the middle 96 (60.4%), distal 42(26.4%) and proximal 17(10.6%) oesophagus. The male to female ratio was 1:1 with an age range of 22-93 years (mean 60.6; SD±12.1). Females were significantly older than males (p = 0.018). Eighty-eight per cent were Black African. Dysphagia was reported in 158 (99.4%) of patients and loss of weight in 149(95.5%). Thirty-six patients were HIV positive (age 52.8; SD±9.7) and significantly younger than those without HIV infection (age 61.2; SD±11.5). Most patients had low SES and poor dental health. Male patients were significantly more likely to use tobacco (p < 0.001; Odds Ratio (OR) 7.8) and consume alcohol (p < 0.001; OR 7.7) than females who were 2.5 times more likely to report a family history of cancer (p = 0.017; OR 2.6).
Conclusion: An equal gender distribution was observed. Male patients with SCO reported the expected risk factors; however these were not observed amongst women. SES may contribute to the development of SCO. Poor dental health may be a surrogate marker for low SES and a possible risk factor for SCO. HIV positive individuals present a decade younger when compared with HIV negative patients.

Key words: Oesophageal cancer, squamous cell cancer, HIV, dental hygiene, socioeconomic status, South Africa, esophageal cancer, risk factors

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