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CANSA Educates on Rights of Women to Cancer Screening

Afrikaanse Media Vrystelling

6 August 2019 – CANSA supports the National Department of Health’s efforts to prioritise awareness of breast and cervical cancer and to educate women with knowledge of symptoms, screening opportunities and lowering cancer risk.

In August, in line with its 365 Day Health Challenge, CANSA encourages women to get screened and to proactively share this on every available platform, including social media encouraging and challenging other women to get screened.

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Breast cancer is the most common among South African women with a lifetime risk of 1 in 27, according to the 2014 National Cancer Registry (NCR). Cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths and the second most commonly diagnosed cancer (excluding basal cell carcinoma) amongst women. The estimated life-time risk among all women in South Africa is 1:42.

Research has shown that a limited knowledge of symptoms, as well as misconceptions, stigma and shame around cancer and screening, especially cervical cancer, cause delays in women going for screening or seeking appropriate care.

Gerda Strauss, CANSA’s Head of Service Delivery emphasises the importance of screening and early detection, “We urge women to get to know what is normal for their bodies, so that when they do a monthly breast self-examination (BSE), they may detect any changes, signs and symptoms of breast cancer. Get to know the warning signs and symptoms. We’re excited to share an educational video that shows women how to perform a BSE, it’s available at this link and social media platforms. ”

“Women who recognise these symptoms should urgently contact CANSA, a health practitioner or their local clinic for a Clinical Breast Examination (CBE). Women who have no symptoms of breast cancer should request an annual CBE when visiting primary health care centres as it’s their right, as per the National Department of Health Breast Cancer Control Policy. Women with a family history of breast cancer should be especially aware of symptoms and not neglect screening”, added Strauss.


CANSA’s support to cancer patients also includes medical equipment hire, wigs, counselling, support groups, online support groups and resources and CANSA Care Homes where patients receiving treatment far from home can stay during treatment. Further, CANSA offers professional fitting services and full range of breast prostheses, bras, swimwear and lymphoedema garments at CANSA Care Centres nationally via its partnership with M Store – read more…

CANSA advocates a mammogram every year for all women from age 40 to 54 for purposes of non-symptomatic breast screening (women 55 years and older, should have a mammogram every two years – or if they choose, continue with an annual mammogram). Public Hospital Breast Clinics or the Radiological Society of SA (RSSA) on 011-794 4395 can be contacted to arrange for a mammogram.

Most cervical cancers are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV), making it one of the most preventable cancers when the HPV vaccination is implemented appropriately. The vaccination is safe and most effective when given at an early age (9 years and older) or before sexual debut. In SA the HPV vaccination was approved by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority in Feb 2008 for its efficacy.

“All women should go for Pap smears at least every three years, from the age of 25, to detect abnormal cells early. However, women are entitled to and can request screening at a younger age. Women making use of public sector screening services are entitled to three free Pap smears per lifetime, starting at the age of 30 years or older, with a 10-year interval between each smear. If women experience abnormal symptoms, they can request a Pap smear at local government clinics. CANSA provides Pap smear screening at CANSA Care Centres around the country,” Strauss concludes.

HIV infected women are at an increased risk for HPV infection at an earlier age (13-18 years). Those who are HIV positive should be, and are entitled to be, screened for cervical cancer at diagnosis and subsequently every three years if the screening test is negative and at yearly intervals if the screening test is positive. Effective treatment of women with abnormal screening tests is important.

For more information, please contact Lucy Balona, Head: Marketing and Communication at CANSA at email Call 011 616 7662 or mobile 082 459 5230.


CANSA offers a unique integrated service to the public and to all people affected by cancer. CANSA is a leading role-player in cancer research and the scientific findings and knowledge gained from our research are used to realign our health programmes, as well as strengthen our watchdog role to the greater benefit of the public. Our health programmes comprise health and education campaigns; CANSA Care Centres that offer a wide range of care and support services to those affected by cancer; stoma and other clinical support; medical equipment hire, as well as a toll-free line to offer information and support. We also supply patient care and support in the form of 12 CANSA Care Homes in the main metropolitan areas for out-of-town cancer patients and CANSA-TLC lodging for parents and guardians of children undergoing cancer treatment.

Queries CANSA

Visit or contact the nearest CANSA Care Centre, call CANSA toll-free 0800 22 66 22 or email: In addition to online resources and Facebook support groups, CANSA offers multi-lingual support on WhatsApp: 072 197 9305 for English and Afrikaans and 071 867 3530 for Xhosa, Zulu, Sotho and Siswati. Follow CANSA on Twitter: @CANSA (, join CANSA on Facebook: CANSA The Cancer Association of South Africa and follow CANSA on Instagram: @cancerassociationofsouthafrica and LinkedIn.


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