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CANSA Awards the 2015 Oettle Memorial Award to Prof Lynette Denny

CANSA is delighted to award the 2015 Oettle Memorial Medal to Professor Lynette Denny.

AG Oettle Memorial award

The AG Oettle Memorial award is in remembrance of the late Dr Oettle, a cancer researcher and epidemiologist working in the South African Institute for Medical Research in Johannesburg in the 1960’s, financed by CANSA. Dr Oettlé served the Association with distinction until his death in November 1967 at the age of 47. His research over 16 years strengthened the theory that environment may play a considerable role in causing cancer. In addition, he broke new ground in conducting a survey of cancer rates in the African community. After his premature death, his family and colleagues decided to create the Oettle Memorial awards to be awarded by CANSA to recipients who had significantly contributed to cancer control in South Africa.

Prof Lynette Denny

Prof Lynette Denny

Prof Lynette Denny

Lynette Denny graduated from UCT in 1983 with an MBChB, an MMed in 1984 and a PhD in 2000. Today, Professor Denny is Chief Specialist and Professor of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at Groote Schuur Hospital and University of Cape Town. She is currently the Head of Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and is also a full member of the Institute of Infectious Diseases and Molecular Medicine at University of Cape Town.

Throughout her career she has devoted her energies to reducing the risk of cervical cancer in low resource settings, both in terms of her clinical and research work and she has published widely and prolifically on this subject, her work proving influential worldwide. Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women globally, but the second most common in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), with over 85% of cases and deaths from cervical cancer occurring in this region. This is a tragedy considering this is one of the few cancers that can be prevented by simple testing and indeed, the high burden of cervical cancer in SSA is largely as a result of the inability of most countries to initiate or sustain an effective cervical cancer prevention programme. Where cytology based screening has been implemented, it has had a dramatic impact on the incidence of and mortality from cervical cancer, but the infrastructure and resources to deliver this has been a significant challenge in many SSA countries. Added to this is the impact the HIV epidemic will have on cervical cancer, especially as access to ARV’s increases and those with HIV survive long enough to develop cancer. Professor Denny has contributed significantly to advocating for improved secondary prevention of cervical cancer in South Africa and through exploring ways to provide a prevention and treatment service that accommodates the limitations of low and middle-income country resources.

We have long admired the excellent and significant contribution she has made to improving the chances of survival for South African women at risk for or diagnosed with cervical cancer. CANSA regards this work of the highest calibre and honours Lynette Denny in recognition of her remarkable contribution to reducing the impact of this disease on the women of our country. It may be a cliche, but women really are the backbone of our society and in the words of Michelle Obama, “Communities and countries and ultimately the world are only as strong as the health of their women.” It is imperative that we look after them. CANSA honors this distinguished scientist for advancing cancer research and the understanding of a devastating disease.

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