The Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) is highlighting the importance of screening and early detection during October, as part of their Women’s Health campaign.
By making smart lifestyle choices and avoiding known carcinogens such as tobacco and alcohol, you not only improve your overall health, you also reduce your cancer risk.
“Some people have genes that make them more likely to develop breast cancer. The most common gene defects are found in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. These genes normally produce proteins that protect one from cancer. Women with one of the defects have up to an 80% chance of getting breast cancer during her life,” says Sue Janse van Rensburg, CANSA CEO and cancer survivor of nearly 30 years. Women who have a first line relative like, mother, sister, aunt that have been diagnosed with cancer, are generally more predisposed to this type of cancer.
She adds “We celebrate the spirit of care and support displayed by women as sisters, mothers and daughters - and invite all women to take hands in the fight against cancer, by taking responsibility for your personal well-being.”
CANSA encourages mothers and daughters to get screened regularly - visit one of the CANSA Care Centres for more information on screening and treatment of women’s cancers or visit www.cansa.org.za. Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers among South African women, with 1 in 33* women being diagnosed. Another of the most common cancers, is cervical cancer, with 1 in 36* women being diagnosed. Cervical cancer is also the leading cancer among black women in South Africa. (link to fact sheet) *SA Statistics as per National Cancer Registry (NCR) 2005
“We as women need to take good care of ourselves. CANSA aims to inspire women to be educated about the cancer risk, encourage their family to lead a balanced lifestyle, by eating healthy; doing regular exercise and managing stress; avoiding alcohol and tobacco and going for regular screening, ” Janse van Rensburg concluded.
CANSA’s Top Tips to reduce the cancer risk:
• Know your family history of breast cancer
• Eat smart and healthy - be cancer-smart when choosing, preparing and enjoying food. Avoid processed foods and include lots of fresh vegetables and fruits in your diet
• Exercise and manage stress - Live a balanced, active lifestyle. Exercise is essential for building immunity and strength. If you’re fit, managing your day to day responsibilities will be less stressful
• Avoid alcohol and tobacco - Limit the use of alcohol or avoid it completely and avoid the use of tobacco products
• Do monthly breast examinations, go for regular clinical breast examinations and symptom-free women should go for a mammogram at least every three years from age 35 - see Women’s Health Infographic and download Leaflets: Breast Cancer
• Go for regular Pap smears (screening test for early diagnosis of cervical cancer), at least every three years from age 25. See Women’s Health Infographic and download leaflets: Cervical Cancer.
• Encourage your mother, daughter, sister and female friends to do the same.
CANSA also offers online support to cancer survivors via their new e-online iSurvivor programme, a first of its kind in the world, using short, weekly emails to guide cancer survivors along their journey and help survivors cope better – visit www.isurvivor.co.za
CANSA has nine Mobile Health Units which travel to remote areas throughout South Africa to reach people who would otherwise not have access to screening. These include the breast examinations, Pap smear screening test for cervical cancer, as well as other health tests such as cholesterol.
For inspirational messages from South African women who have been touched by cancer, purchase a copy of CANSA’s tea table book ‘Sister Warriors’ or get CANSA’s ‘Life is Beautiful’ publication that includes information on cancer prevention, as well as tips for cancer survivors. Both books can be ordered through CANSA’s Head Office or toll-free line 0800 22 66 22 or via email: .
For more info on female cancers visit www.cansa.org.za or contact CANSA toll-free 0800 22 66 22 email: CANSA on Twitter: @CANSA (http://www.twitter.com/@CANSA) and join CANSA on Facebook: CANSA: Fighting cancer in South Africa (https://www.facebook.com/groups/25164487668/
Conducted cancer screening which includes facilitation of screening with the Department of Health (DOH):
• 15 140 Pap smears for early detection of cervical cancer and 4 824 in partnership with the DOH
• 16 310 breast examinations to detect breast lumps and 1 726 in partnership with the DOH