Colorectal Cancer in Africa: A Fact-sheet



National burden of colorectal cancer across 54 African countries


Incidence: The four Africa countries with the highest burden of CRC were Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa and Algeria in relative order, while the lowest new cases were observed in Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Comoros and Gambia.


Death counts: In both sexes, Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt, and Ethiopia were the leading four countries with Colorectal cancer (CRC) death counts on the continent. Comoros, Seychelles, and Sao Tome and Principe had the lowest death counts in relative order


Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs): The four leading countries in terms of DALYs counts in both sexes were Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa, and Ethiopia in relative order; while Comoros, Seychelles, and Sao Tome and Principe had lowest DALYs counts respectively.



Trends in Colorectal cancer in Africa (2010 – 2019)


Incidence, Death count and DALYs: Rates of new cases, mortality and Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) for CRC were observed to be on the upward trend for both males and females from 2010 – 2019 compared to prior to 2010.

This trend is similar to those reported for the United States of America.


Age-specific incidence: In 2019, the highest age specific incidence for CRC peaked at 60–69 years in both males and females.

This is in contrast to reported figures in the United States during similar timeline that showed that CRC rates declined for those 65 years and older, stabilized for people 50 to 64, but increased in relative order in people younger than 50 and those 50 to 54.


Age specific death count: In 2019, age specific death counts were peaking at 60–69 years for males and 65–79 years in females.

This is also in contrast to reported figures in the United States for similar period that showed increasingly higher CRC death counts in people below age 50- 54 years.


DALYs counts: Most DALYs counts were recorded in 55–64 years in both males and females.




What is DALYs? This term stands for Disability-Adjusted Life Years.

According to the World Health Organisation, (WHO),  the DALY  "is a time-based measure that combines years of life lost due to premature mortality (YLLs) and years of life lost due to time lived in states of less than full health, or years of healthy life lost due to disability (YLDs)". One DALY represents the loss of the equivalent of one year of full health. DALYs for a disease or health condition are the sum of the years of life lost due to premature mortality (YLLs) and the years lived with a disability (YLDs) due to prevalent cases of the disease or health condition in a population.

Therefore the formula used to calculate DALYs is as follows:


Basically, the YLL corresponds to the number of deaths, multiplied by the standard life expectancy at the age at which death occurs.

The basic formula for YLL is


where the N stands for number of deaths. It is multiplied by L, which stands for standard life expectancy at age of death, in years.

The basic formula for YLD is


where the P stands for number of prevalent cases. It is multiplied by the “DW,” which stands for disability weight.




Awedew, A.F., Asefa, Z. & Belay, W.B. Burden and trend of colorectal cancer in 54 countries of Africa 2010–2019: A systematic examination for Global Burden of DiseaseBMC Gastroenterol 22, 204 (2022).

WHO: The Global Health Observatory. Disability-Adjusted Life Years. Retreived March 5, 2023.




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