A comparison of oesophageal cancer between the public and private sectors in KwaZulu-Natal
Background: The frequency of the occurrence and type of oesophageal cancer from pathology laboratory data from the private and public sector has never been compared in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). This study aims to compare data from the public and private pathology services in the province.
Methods: All the malignant and pre-malignant oesophageal biopsies at the academic department of histopathology and at three private laboratories in the KZN were retrieved for comparison.
Results: Between January 2012 and December 2014, there were a total of 1087 new diagnoses of an oesophageal malignancy or pre-malignant diagnosis. There were 613 specimens from the private laboratories in KZN and 474 from IALCH. The sex distribution was (41%) females and (59%) males. In the private sector, the mean age was 61.6 years and in the public sector it was 62.7 years. (Range 18–75 years) Africans comprised 63% of the total, Whites 28% and Indians 7%. In the public sector 89.5 % of patients were African whereas in the private sector, Africans comprised 45.7% and Whites made up 46% of the total. Eighty-eight per cent of biopsy specimens were malignant lesions of which 68% were squamous carcinoma. Squamous carcinomas accounted for 87.5% and 54% of all lesions in the public and private sectors respectively. Pre-malignant lesions accounted for 5% and 23% of diagnoses in the public and private sectors respectively. Pre-malignant lesions in the public sector showed mainly dysplastic squamous cell dysplasia whereas dysplastic Barrett’s oesophagus lesions accounted for the majority in the private sector.
Conclusion: Oesophageal cancer is a major public health problem in KZN. Although squamous carcinoma predominates, adenocarcinoma is a significant problem in the White population. It would appear that surveillance for oesophageal adenocarcinoma is taking place in the private sector albeit in a non-systematic or coordinated fashion. This does not appear to be the case in the state sector.
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