World Cancer Day – closing the gap in cancer care | Western Cape Government

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World Cancer Day – closing the gap in cancer care

4 February 2022

Today, 4 February 2022, is World Cancer Day, a global initiative that aims to reduce the global cancer burden. Western Cape Government Health is committed to saving lives of preventable deaths by raising awareness and education about the global impact of cancer.

The theme for this year is closing the gap in cancer care. Western Cape Government Health not only advocates this by creating awareness and programmes for healthy lifestyles to prevent or reduce the risk of cancer, but also offers extensive support for cancer patients, from early detection to diagnosis. The number of people diagnosed with cancer has significantly increased over the past years, and the Department has invested millions of rand in additional facilities, research and advanced equipment for this purpose.

An example of new innovations and equipment is the Halcyon®, a 40 million rand advanced technology radiotherapy machine. “The Western Cape Government purchased two R40 million advanced technology radiotherapy machines named Halcyon®, one each for Groote Schuur and Tygerberg Hospitals. Patients are treated between 2 to 3 minutes per treatment. With every treatment the patient has a CT image (integrated into the treatment head) and this image is matched to their planning scan so the treatment is accurate in 3-D. The through-put is so high Tygerberg Oncology unit treats over 50 patients a day. Those who benefit the most are our head and neck, cervix and prostate cancer patients. It also highly effective for brain tumours and paediatric cancer patients. The treatment is fast, with reduced side effects due to highly accurate delivery. This technology is cutting edge and at the time of procurement there were only 1000 machines clinical in the world. In addition we are the only centre in South Africa doing 3-D CT-based brachytherapy planning for cervix cancer patients. Increasing accuracy, reducing side effects and improving outcomes,” said Prof Hannah Simonds, Head of Division Radiation Oncology. 


Balanced Lifestyle

A healthy and balanced lifestyle plays a significant role in reducing the risk of cancer. According to CANSA, the Cancer Association of South Africa, you should:

  • Know your body: Be aware of changes and do regular self-examinations(skin, breast or testicular). Get to know cancer signs and symptoms
  • Get vaccinated: Vaccinate against HPV and Hepatitis B viruses that may lead to cancer.
  • Eat Smart:  A healthy and balanced diet plays an important role in your health.
  • Get regular cancer screening: Visit your GP or clinic should you have any worrisome symptoms.
  • Keep moving: Staying active is essential.
  • Cut down on alcohol
  • Quit smoking
  • Be sun smart
  • Avoid pollutants and chemicals

You can read more about cancer signs and symptoms by visiting


COVID-19 vaccinations and cancer

Having a weakened immune system (immunocompromised) while fighting cancer and receiving treatment can make you more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19.

It is very important that people keep up vaccination after their first (primary) vaccine, to include additional (booster) doses where available. The booster dose helps people maintain strong protection from severe coronavirus disease. These booster doses are available to all persons, aged 18 years and older. 

Immunocompromised individuals who have completed their primary vaccine regimen, will become eligible to receive an additional dose of J&J two months after having received the first dose, or an additional dose of Pfizer six months after having received the second dose.