Document Type



General Surgery (East Africa)


Background: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a leading cause of mortality in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). This systematic review aimed to appraise all population-based studies describing the management and outcomes of HCC in SSA.

Methods: A systematic review based on a search in PubMed, PubMed Central, Scopus, Web of Science, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), AfricaWide and Cochrane up to June 2023 was performed. PRISMA guidelines for systematic reviews were followed. The study protocol was registered with the International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews (PROSPERO) (registration no: CRD42022363955).

Results: Thirty-nine publications from 15 of 48 SSA countries were identified; 3989 patients were studied. The majority (74%) were male, with median ages ranging from 28 to 54 years. Chronic Hepatitis B infection was a leading aetiology and non-cirrhotic HCC was frequently reported. Curative treatment (liver resection, transplantation and ablation) was offered to 6% of the cohort. Most patients (84%) received only best supportive care (BSC), with few survivors at one year.

Conclusion: The majority of SSA countries do not have data reporting outcomes for HCC. Most patients receive only BSC, and curative treatment is seldom available in the region. Outcomes are poor compared to high-income countries.

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