Breast cancer awareness | Western Cape Government

Breast cancer awareness


A young woman getting an ultrasound breast examBreast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer for South African women of all races, with a lifetime risk of 1 in 27. The risk for breast cancer increases as a person gets older, but many women under 40 have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Although male breast cancer is rare, Breast Health Foundation recorded that in South Africa, 1-3% of all breast cancers happen in men. According to the latest data from the National Cancer Register, men have a 1 in 943 lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. Many men don't know they can get breast cancer. They may not notice a change, think it’s not important and may be embarrassed to say anything. This can delay diagnosis. As a result, breast cancers may be found later in men. The male breast is much smaller than the female breast making it more likely that cancer will spread to the chest wall.

Fact sheet for male breast cancer.

You can lower your cancer and health risk by cutting out lifestyle factors that increase your cancer risk. Learn to recognise warning signs. Annual medical check-ups and cancer screening appointments can help early detection, as symptoms don’t always present until cancer has spread.

There’s a lot you can do, not only to help yourself but also to spread awareness about breast cancer.


Breast Cancer myth vs fact infographicEarly detection and self-examination are important

For women, monthly breast self-examination 2 days after the last day of their period is an important screening method. Women over the age of 45 should consider going for a regular mammogram. Younger women have denser breast tissue and would benefit more from an ultrasound examination than a mammogram.  ​

Family history plays an important role in determining how prone someone is to developing cancer. This is especially true for immediate family members (mom, father or sister) who were diagnosed at a relatively young age. Be sure to discuss all these issues and concerns with your doctor.

You need to know what’s normal for your body. Be aware of symptoms of cancer, as early detection improves the chances of successful treatment. It's suggested that you do a simple monthly breast self-exam to check your breasts for lumps or anything that seems unusual.

Risk factors for breast cancer

  • Age
  • Family history
  • Lifestyle choices
  • Existing medical conditions

Early detection of breast cancer can improve survival.

Signs and symptoms

The most common sign of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. A painless lump that is hard and has uneven edges is more likely to be cancer. Some cancers are tender, soft and rounded. You need to have anything unusual checked by a doctor. The signs and symptoms for men and women are the same.

Other possible signs of breast cancer can include:

  • swelling of all or part of the breast,
  • skin irritation or dimpling,
  • breast pain,
  • nipple pain or the nipple turning inward,
  • redness, scaliness or thickening of the nipple or breast skin,
  • a nipple discharge other than breast milk, and
  • a lump in the underarm area.


Treatment of breast cancer has improved in recent years. If detected early, breast cancer patients now have an excellent prognosis.  Everyone isn’t the same, and many factors will influence survival including tumour characteristics, the stage of the disease, and the chosen treatment plan. Once diagnosed, your doctor will discuss the appropriate treatment plan with you in detail. Treatment for breast cancer in men and women is the same. 

To treat your cancer, you may have one or more of the following treatments:

  • Surgery
  • Radiotherapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Hormone therapy
  • Biological therapy

Lifestyle changes that may minimise your risk

  • Follow a healthy diet.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Use alcohol in moderation.
  • Try to have your children before the age of 30 if possible and breastfeed. 

Get screened today 

The Western Cape Government has Breast Clinics at the following hospitals:

Groote Schuur Hospital (GSH) Outpatient Department Breast Clinic

You can find more information about the Groote Schuur Hospital Breast Clinic here.

  • You must be referred to the GSH Breast Clinic by a healthcare worker. 
  • The clinic only operates on Wednesday and Friday mornings at 7am.
  • All new patients must be early as the cut-off time to accept new patients is 9am.
  • No patients will be accepted after 9am unless they’re from country cases, using Health-net transport, are urgent referrals or if prior arrangements have been made with referring doctors.

Contact details:

Breast Coordinator
Sr Murie
Tel: 021 404 5426

Mrs Le Roux
021 404 4514

Breast Clinic
G floor outpatient department
021 404 5523


Tygerberg Hospital Breast and Endocrine Clinic

You can find more information about the Tygerberg Hospital Breast Clinic here. (This Tygerberg Hospital Breast Clinic uses the VULA Mobile app for referrals).  

  • The clinic is operational from Monday to Friday.
  • They see between 30 to 40 patients per day.
  • All patients need to have an appointment. It's not a walk-in clinic.

Referral system of new patients to the Breast and Endocrine clinic:   

Patients are referred to the Breast and Endocrine clinic via the VULA app for new breast and endocrine patients and via email for new soft tissue patients

One of the clinic’s medical officers will reply to the referral within 3 days with either an appointment date or redirection for referral to the correct department or hospital.

Inpatient referrals are discussed with the registrar on call. All patients are referred by a doctor.

With the VULA Mobile app, it allows the doctors at the Breast and Endocrine clinic to assess if a referral is for the clinic or if the referral is for another discipline/clinic. This also allows doctors to communicate via a chat function.

Patients who present with a lump of the breast can also be referred for a Fine Needle Aspiration at the Fine Needle Aspiration clinic on the 10th floor at Tygerberg hospital. No appointment needed: It's open from 11h00 - 13h00 (Mondays - Fridays).

If the FNA is suspicious, the patient will be redirected to the referring doctor and they are responsible for making an appointment via VULA if needed. The hospital drainage areas for Tygerberg Hospital are Khayelitsha, Karl Bremer, Eersteriver, Paarl and Worcester.

Contact details:

Breast and Endocrine Clinic

Tel: 021 938 5203/5210/5205

Mitchells Plain Hospital Breast Clinic

  • You must be referred to the Mitchells Plain Breast Clinic.
  • The clinic provides an immediate diagnostic evaluation of a patient with a suspicious lump in their breast.
  • The clinic runs on a Monday from 8am to 12pm.
  • Patients must arrive early.

Contact details:

Mitchells Plain Hospital Breast Clinic

Tel: 021 377 4333

If you or one of your friends has been diagnosed with breast cancer, these organisations can offer support: 

The content on this page was last updated on 25 October 2022