Review Article

Oesophageal cancer in South Africa: A scoping review

Lucien Ferndale, Colleen Aldous
South African Journal of Oncology | Vol 6 | a217 | DOI: | © 2022 Lucien Ferndale, Colleen Aldous | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 December 2021 | Published: 24 March 2022

About the author(s)

Lucien Ferndale, Department of Surgery, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa;and, Department of Surgery, Faculty of Health, Grey’s Hospital, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
Colleen Aldous, Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa


Background: Oesophageal cancer is an aggressive cancer that is endemic in certain parts of South Africa where it is the second commonest cause of cancer-related deaths. Yet, there is a paucity of research on the topic from the area.

Aim: This article aimed to assess the body of literature on clinical and epidemiological research on oesophageal cancer from South Africa and identify key research gaps.

Methods: We conducted a scoping review of research on oesophageal cancer in South Africa. We performed a search of databases as well as manual searches after cross-referencing from selected articles. We selected all appropriate articles published up to the end of 2020 and excluded genetic and laboratory-based studies without clinical components.

Results: We identified 81 articles that were published from 1957 to 2020. There was a significant decrease in the number of publications after the year 2000 and studies on the surgical management are non-existent after 2000. We found inconsistencies in the data regarding the incidence of oesophageal cancer in South Africa. Late presentation appears to be a huge factor in South Africa resulting in a poor prognosis. The largest research gaps included studies on incidence, curative management, follow-up after treatment and screening.

Conclusion: There needs to be a strong drive towards research on oesophageal cancer in order to first establish the burden of disease in South Africa and thereafter investigate ways to diagnose the disease and institute appropriate management earlier.


oesophagus; cancer, scoping review, clinical research, South Africa


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