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Women to Take Time to Exercise Right to Screening

3 August 2020 – In August, CANSA encourages women to take care of themselves by knowing their bodies, the signs of cancer and taking up their right to cancer screening to promote early detection. View infographics… #WomensHealth #CANSAscreening #BreastCancer #CervicalCancer #WomensMonth

Gerda Strauss, CANSA’s Head: Service says, “Women generally put others first. We want women to realise that they too have the right to prioritise their health. We know that we’re living in unprecedented times with COVID-19 taking centre stage in our lives, however the cancer risk does not go away due to the pandemic, and that women still need to go for regular cancer screening as early detection saves lives. And get to know the early warning signs and symptoms of cancer so that you’re informed and can seek help if needed.”

“Some women, especially older women or those with underlying conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes may be reluctant to get screening as they’re more at risk due to COVID-19. However, appointments for clinical breast examinations and Pap smears can be made at CANSA Care Centres at an affordable rate, with no need for crowding and with strict protective measures in place against the spread of COVID-19,” added Strauss.

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).

Dr Manala Makua, Chief Director Women, Maternal and Reproductive Health, conveys, “To the health care professionals across the country, it takes five critical questions to save lives, what we call the ‘high five’. For every woman who visits the health care facility, please ask the following: Do you perform breast self- examinations regularly? Have you noticed any changes in your breasts? Have you experienced abnormal vaginal bleeding? Have you ever had a Pap smear? and Do you have a family history of cancer?”

Strauss elaborates, “Women should do regular monthly breast self-examinations, as illustrated in our latest video and radio spots that challenge women to get educated and learn how to do those breast self-examinations. You can view the videos and listen to radio spots on our website”.



Breast and cervical cancers are the leading cause of death among South African women with breast being the most diagnosed cancer, with a lifetime risk of 1 in 25, according to the 2016 National Cancer Registry (NCR). Cervical cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed (excluding basal cell carcinoma) amongst women. The estimated life-time risk among all women in South Africa is 1:35 (National Cancer Registry 2016). Read more about the symptoms of breast and cervical cancer on the CANSA Website.

Strauss concludes. “We also encourage women to familiarise themselves with the risk factors and symptoms of early stage cervical changes (although women may only present with symptoms at a later stage in the disease) – so that they may be aware. Cervical cancer can be effectively treated if detected & diagnosed early. And also, let’s adopt lifestyle behaviours that can help lower risk for breast and cervical cancers by being physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding alcohol and tobacco, eating balanced meals, avoiding sexually activity at an early age and engaging in sexual activities with different partners or risky sexual behaviour, which increases the chances of getting HPV. Women should also avoid exposure to known cancer causing agents.”

(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 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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