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REVIEW ARTICLE
Year : 2011  |  Volume : 15  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 82-88

Epidemiology of thyroid diseases in Africa


1 Department of Medicine, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria
2 Eko Hospital, Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
Anthonia Okeoghene Ogbera
Department of Medicine, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, Lagos
Nigeria
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/2230-8210.83331

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Background: Thyroid disorders are common endocrine disorders encountered in the African continent. Environmental and nutritional factors are often implicated in the occurrence of some thyroid disorders that occur in this part of the world. This is a narrative review that seeks to document the pattern, prevalence, and management of thyroid disorders in the continent. Materials and Methods: The search engine used for this review were PubMed and Google scholar. All available articles on thyroid disorders from the sub-African continent, published until May 2011, were included. Results: Iodine deficiency disorders (IDD) which top the list of thyroid disorders and remain the commonest cause of thyroid disorders in the continent is often affected not only by the iodine status in the region but sometimes also by selenium deficiency and thiocyanate toxicity. The reported prevalence rates of endemic goiter range from 1% to 90% depending on the area of study with myxedematous cretinism still a prominent feature of IDD in only a few regions of the continent. The extent of autoimmune thyroid disorders remains unknown because of underdiagnosis and underreporting but the few available studies note a prevalence rate of 1.2% to 9.9% of which Graves diseases is the commonest of these groups of disorders. Rarer causes of thyroid dysfunction such as thyroid tuberculosis and amiodarone related causes are also documented in this review. The onset of new thyroid diseases following amiodarone usage was documented in 27.6% of persons treated for arrhythmia. Reports on thyroid malignancies (CA) in Africa abound and differentiated thyroid malignancies are noted to occur more commonly than the other forms of thyroid CA. The documented prevalence rates of thyroid CA in the African continent are as follows (papillary: 6.7-72.1%, follicular: 4.9-68%, anaplastic: 5-21.4%, and medullary: 2.6%-13.8%). For the differentiated thyroid CA, there is a changing trend toward the more frequent occurrence of papillary CA compared to follicular CA and this may be attributable to widespread iodization programs. Our review shows that diagnosis and evaluation of thyroid disorders are reliant in most regions of the continent on clinical acumen and suboptimal diagnostic facilities and expertise are what obtain in many practices. The frequently employed management options of thyroid disorders in the continent are pharmacological and surgical treatment modalities. Conclusion: Diagnosis and management of thyroid disorders in the African continent remain suboptimal. Thyroid registries may be helpful to determine the scope of the burden of thyroid disorders since this knowledge may help change policies on the approach to the management of these disorders.


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