Early Detection is the Key to Survive Breast Cancer | Western Cape Government


Early Detection is the Key to Survive Breast Cancer

17 October 2005
The incidence of breast cancer among South African women is increasing, with more than 3 800 cases being diagnosed every year, says Provincial Health Minister, Pierre Uys.

In a statement in support of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Uys says breast cancer is one of the most common cancers among women in this country. "Many women still associate breast cancer with a death sentence, but in reality early detection of the condition can lead to effective treatment and a positive prognosis," says Uys.

About 90% of patients survive for many years after diagnosis when breast cancer is detected at the early stages. "It has become crucial to educate the South African public about the dangers of breast cancer. Particularly, the need for regular self-breast examination, regular mammograms and provision of information about early detection and the various treatment options available."

The designation of October as "Women's Health and Breast Cancer Awareness Month" in South Africa reflects a nationwide drive by public and private healthcare structures to raise awareness of this debilitating disease.

Risk factors for female breast cancer include early menarche (period), late age at first childbirth, a high-fat diet and certain genetic mutations. Other suggested risk factors include, to a lesser extend, high alcohol consumption, contraceptives use and the use of certain post-menopausal hormone replacement therapies.

The risk of developing breast cancer among South African women (aged 0-74 yrs) is 1 in 31 females.

Uys says health services the world over have come a long way in fighting this dreaded disease. "Treatment is, however, expensive and every new facility this province gets to help us in our fight against cancer is welcomed. We have a new CT scanner at Groote Schuur Hospital and injected an extra R1 million for the treatment of mainly head and breast cancers.

"We do this because cancer patients often still have many fruitful years ahead with special treatment. We in the Western Cape are fortunate that we do have excellent cancer treatment facilities throughout the province, but if there is no early detection through regular examination, survival chances are drastically reduced," says Uys.

Issued by:
Herman van der Westhuizen
Media Liaison Officer - Ministry of Health
082 772 9161

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