Women – Take a Stand Against Cancer
2 August 2021 – August marks Women’s Month with National Women’s Day celebrated on 9 August 2021, remembering women’s active role in SA history to protect human rights and providing an opportunity to draw attention to significant issues women still face. CANSA acknowledges the collective power of women to achieve positive change and calls on women to unite around the importance of cancer screening for women and help prevent unnecessary loss of life. CANSA encourages women to arrange for cancer screening at their local CANSA Care Centre and purchase a screening voucher * for a loved one, friend or employee.
Gerda Strauss, CANSA’s Head of Service believes that women can influence other women positively with regards to cancer screening. “Too many women still die of cancer, because they aren’t encouraged to know their own bodies, be aware of the symptoms of cancer, take advantage of cancer screening, or understand how to lower their personal cancer risk. COVID-19 has also caused women who are aware of the importance of cancer screening to put it off, to avoid busy healthcare facilities. However, cancer remains a reality and early detection through screening can save lives. Is there a woman in your life who doesn’t know about the importance of screening or can’t afford it? Buy her a screening voucher * and share your knowledge.”
Dr Zainab Mohamed, Head Clinical Unit, Radiation Oncology Groote Schuur Hospital / University of Cape Town comments on the impact the pandemic has had on cancer screening and diagnosis. “COVID-19 affects cancer services in many ways. It affects cancer screening. People can’t go for routine screening because hospitals are full, or these screenings have been postponed so that there are not too many people and to maintain social distancing. It’s affected diagnosis. A lot of patients have not been able to go to their GP’s or primary healthcare facilities or access secondary level services, because there is no space. We’ve been overrun by COVID.”
Strauss explains how CANSA is able to help, “It’s not necessary to delay cancer screening. CANSA offers screening through its CANSA Care Centres by appointment to avoid crowding and with strict safety protocols in place to avoid the spread of COVID-19. An affordable small fee is charged to assist with the cost of the equipment needed to conduct the screening. Medical aid patients can submit a claim to their medical aid once they have paid for the screening.”
Screenings available to women include Clinical Breast Examinations (to detect breast lumps); Pap Smears (liquid based cervical cancer screening test for early diagnosis); FotoFinder examinations (mole mapping dermoscope device to examine moles and spots on skin) and a Faecal occult home testing kit (to help indicate a growth / inflammation / bleeding in digestive system, possibly indicating colorectal cancer). Women are encouraged to buy a screening voucher for a loved one, friend or employee who perhaps can’t afford it, or to urge them to take advantage of screening available.
According to statistics from the National Cancer Registry (NCR) 2017, the top five cancers affecting women in SA include: breast, cervical, colorectal, uterine and lung cancer. Both breast and cervical cancer have been identified as a national priority with increasing incidences occurring. Apart from non-melanoma skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women of all races, with a lifetime risk of 1 in 25 in South Africa, according to the 2017 National Cancer Registry (NCR). Cervical cancer is the 2nd most common cancer among South African women, but the cancer that women die of most. Women have a 1 in 40 lifetime risk of cervical cancer (NCR 2017).
What Women Can Do:
- Know Your Body – Be aware of any changes to your body and do regular self-examinations: breast | skin – report changes to a medical health practitioner.
- Know Signs of Cancer – Read more about the symptoms of cancers affecting women in SA on the CANSA Website.
- Regular Cancer Screening – Make an appointment at your local CANSA Care Centre for cancer screening on an annual basis, or if you are concerned about a symptom you are experiencing.
- Share Your Knowledge – Empower other women by sharing the knowledge you have gained about cancer, screening and lowering cancer risk. Buy another woman a cancer screening voucher.
Public healthcare screening – women are entitled to an annual clinical breast examination when visiting primary health care centres (according to the National Department of Health’s Breast Cancer Control Policy) and according to the National Department of Health’s Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control Policy women aged 30 years and older are able to have three Pap smears in their lifetime at 30, 40 and 50 at public health clinics at no cost (non -symptomatic). If women experience abnormal symptoms, they can request a Pap smear at local government clinics. HIV positive women are eligible for a Pap smear at diagnosis and every three years thereafter if negative for cervical cancer (yearly if screening is positive).
*screening vouchers valid until 31 October 2021
(For more information, please contact Lucy Balona, Head: Marketing and Communication at CANSA at email firstname.lastname@example.org. Call 011 616 7662 or mobile 082 459 5230.)
Image credit: www.vecteezy.com
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 offer a Tele Counselling service in seven languages free of charge. We also supply patient care and support in the form of 8 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.
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