Objective: A high level of completeness of case-finding is essential if data from cancer registries are to be useful for comparative studies. A large case series, collected independently of the cancer registry case-finding mechanisms, as part of a study of the influence of HIV infection on cancer risk, was used to evaluate the completeness of the registry in Kampala, Uganda, for the years 1994–1996.
Results: For adults aged 15 or more, the completeness of registration of diagnosed cancer cases was 89.6% (95% CI 87.0–91.7) overall. It varied with age (better ascertainment of younger cases, aged under 30) and cancer site (with Kaposi sarcoma cases significantly better identified), and cases with a histology report were more likely to be registered than those without (though the difference was not significant). Completeness declined with time, as in most registries, which continue to identify “late” cases some time after the initial diagnosis.
Conclusion: This is the first objective measurement of completeness of cancer registration in Africa, and it gives reassurance that published incidence rates are reasonably accurate (provided that there is not an insistence on the very latest results).