‘’I found a lump in my breast!”
‘bleeding between menstrual periods’
‘blood in the urine’’
‘’changes in your bowel movements’’
These are all symptoms that are alarming and requires a doctor’s examination and possibly more tests as stats show these could be the onset and signs of early cancer warning. Doctors and common-sense caution that these first signs and warnings should be actioned and checked immediately to prevent further complications which would involve a more intense or vigorous treatment.
The technology in testing for cancer has vastly improved and we have several companies in South Africa working with government to actively implement initiatives to manage and control the cancer. The list of common cancers in South Africa displays the difference between men and women, hence requiring a different solution both in awareness and communication as the treatment would differ.
For purposes of this article, the 2 top cancers for women in South Africa are breast and cervical and have been identified as the leading cause of women deaths especially older than 30 years.
We welcome new interventions being launched by government such as the new cancer policies launched on the 25 August 2017 by the Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, who aims to address the high mortality caused by these cancers.
The new breast and cervical cancer control policies include;
1.) An introduction of a new screening technique called liquid-based cytology which is an improvement from pap smear technique and is more comfortable and produces more reliable results
2.) Women who are diagnosed early to have access to treatment such as Trutusumab which will prolong life if treatment is completed and minimises the recurrence.
It is these initiatives and awareness that are crucial in driving away the cancers but most importantly working together with government, the private sector and the public to realize this vision. We also must acknowledge the numerous local organizations that support cancer patients and families, and while the support may not always be monetary, it can prove invaluable in emotional, physical and psychological consequences.
However, the financial challenges cannot be ignored especially since treatment can cost between R10 000 to R1million and with 114,091 new cancer cases reported in 2015, projections could double by 2030.
As much as South Africa has established oncology health care services, our issue largely remains low cancer awareness and communication, poor cancer surveillance and widespread service challenges. However the challenge presents itself to us first, one of self-accountability and self-examination.
Government new policy reference links: http://www.health.gov.za/index.php/shortcodes/2015-03-29-10-42-47/2015-04-30-08-18-10/2015-04-30-08-24-27
written by Rayana Edwards
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