Research Topic

Cancer in Africans: The Past, the Present, and the Future

About this Research Topic

The continent of Africa is the cradle of humanity and holds the oldest evidence of human cancer in recorded history, which was reported in the Egyptian papyrus of Imhotep (3,000–2,500 B.C). From the ancient treatment recommendation of Egyptian Imhotep of "There is none," to the current high mortality, cancer ...

The continent of Africa is the cradle of humanity and holds the oldest evidence of human cancer in recorded history, which was reported in the Egyptian papyrus of Imhotep (3,000–2,500 B.C). From the ancient treatment recommendation of Egyptian Imhotep of "There is none," to the current high mortality, cancer has been an enigma that is grievously bedeviling the people of Africa, and it is now a significant public health problem in Africa. Furthermore, deaths due to cancer have surpassed those caused by AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined. Despite the increase in cancer survivors in other continents, cancer death in Africa is projected to be 30% higher than the global average in the next 20 years. This trend in cancer burden in Africa is also similar to that observed in black populations outside Africa, particularly for cancers in which racial disparity exists.

Cancer is intrinsically a genetically driven disease, but several socio-demographic, behavioral, lifestyle and environmental factors interact to influence an individual's cancer status and outcome. Although these factors differ extremely between human populations, most cancer studies and discoveries have reported on non-African populations, particularly those of European descent. The uniqueness and high heterogeneity of Black populations within and outside of the continent, therefore, limits the application of such discoveries to Africans. This is because race/ethnicity greatly influences cancer incidence, survival, drug response, molecular pathways, and ultimately the treatment outcome. For instance, men and women of West Africa ancestry have higher risks of prostate cancer and triple-negative breast cancer, respectively. This racially determined risk has been attributed to the evolutionary adaptation of ancient African populations to highly diverse African ecosystems and pathogens, like malaria. Besides, Africans continue to face a burden of biotic (e.g., infectious) and abiotic factors as well as acculturation-associated lifestyle changes that impact cancer susceptibility and outcome. The lack of publications on cancer in Africa impedes policies that could reduce the burden of cancer among Africans and have created a perfect ‘storm’ that drives the disparity in cancer outcomes.

Therefore, in this Research Topic, we welcome manuscripts that contribute to our understanding of the past, present, and future of cancer in African populations with the view of achieving equity in cancer risk-prediction, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. The aim of this collection is also to provide an avenue for African cancer investigators to disseminate their high-quality research findings and reviews of topical issues that advance the knowledge of cancer in Africans. In addition to an emphasis on African populations, we welcome articles about the Black population globally. Hence, we consider Africans to also include all Black people, irrespective of their present geographical location or mode of migration from the continent.

Specifically, we welcome contributions focusing on, but not limited to, the following subject areas:

1. Molecular biology and genomics of cancer in Africans.
2. Epidemiology/Behavioral studies on cancer in Africans.
3. Clinical studies and trials of treatments and interventions for cancers that include Africans.
4. Basic science studies on the biology of racial disparity of cancer in Africans.
5. Cancer survivorship, mortality, burden and cancer screenings in Africa.


Keywords: Africa, Blacks, cancer, disparity


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

14 September 2020 Manuscript
19 October 2020 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

14 September 2020 Manuscript
19 October 2020 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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