Distribution of cancer mortality rates by province in South Africa

F. Madea,K. Wilsona, R. Jinaa, N. Tlotlenga, S. Jack, V. Ntlebi, T.Kootbodiena

Cancer Epidemiology 51 (2017) 56–61



Cancer mortality rates are expected to increase in developing countries. Cancer mortality rates by province remain largely unreported in South Africa. This study described the 2014 age standardised cancer mortality rates by province in South Africa, to provide insight for strategic interventions and advocacy.

Methods: 2014 deaths data were retrieved from Statistics South Africa. Deaths from cancer were extracted using 10th International Classification of Diseases (ICD) codes for cancer (C00-C97). Adjusted 2013 mid-year population estimates were used as a standard population. All rates were calculated per 100 000 individuals.

Results: Nearly 38 000 (8%) of the total deaths in South Africa in 2014 were attributed to cancer. Western Cape Province had the highest age standardised cancer mortality rate in South Africa (118, 95% CI: 115–121 deaths per 100 000 individuals), followed by the Northern Cape (113, 95% CI: 107–119 per 100 000 individuals), with the lowest rate in Limpopo Province (47, 95% CI: 45–49 per 100 000). The age standardised cancer mortality rate for men (71, 95% CI: 70–72 per 100 000 individuals) was similar to women (69, 95% CI: 68–70 per 100 000). Lung cancer was a major driver of cancer death in men (13, 95% CI: 12.6–13.4 per 100 000). In women, cervical cancer was the leading cause of cancer death (13, 95% CI: 12.6–13.4 per 100 000 individuals).

Conclusion: There is a need to further investigate the factors related to the differences in cancer mortality by province in South Africa. Raising awareness of risk factors and screening for cancer in the population along with improved access and quality of health care are also important.