Women & Cancer
Cancer is one of the most serious diseases women face.
We urge women and female cancer Survivors to encourage one another to adopt a balanced lifestyle and to go for regular screenings in order to reduce their cancer risk or the recurrence of cancer & to detect cancer early.
Watch Slideshow about Women’s Health
Contact your local CANSA Care Centre for health awareness materials and arrange for screening for Breast, Cervical or Skin Cancer, or ask about scheduled visits to provide screening via our Mobile Health Clinics, if you live in a remote area.
CANSA places the focus on women reducing their cancer risk during October. However, we encourage women to make their health a priority all year round.
See info regarding female cancers prevalent in SA & other female cancers below. Find general info regarding cancer here…
Apart from non-melanoma skin cancer, Breast Cancer is the most common cancer in women of all races, with a lifetime risk of 1 in 26 in South Africa, according to the 2012 National Cancer Registry (NCR).
Reduce Risk Through Regular Examinations:
Self and Clinical Breast Examinations
Many breast lumps are harmless, but they should all be checked. It is important for women to do monthly breast self-examinations and to go for regular Clinical Breast Examinations.
Contact your local CANSA Care Centre to arrange for a Clinical Breast Examination or if you have been diagnosed with Breast Cancer, so that our staff can help guide you through the public health care system and offer you and your loved ones care & support. You can also ask your Care Centre about Mobile Health Clinic visits scheduled in your community.
Many women and men overestimate their exposure to ionizing radiation from mammography. Read Fact Sheet Effective Radiation Received from Routine Mammography.
Mammograms do not prevent breast cancer, but they can save lives by finding breast cancer as early as possible. Finding breast cancers early with mammography has also meant that many more women being treated for breast cancer are able to keep their breasts. When caught early, localised cancers can be removed without resorting to breast removal (mastectomy).
Symptom-free women from the age of 40, should go for a mammogram (a special x-ray to detect lumps in the breast), every year. See CANSA Breast Cancer Position Statement (NCR 2012) regarding this.
Our Care Centres do not offer mammograms, however, you can contact the following public hospital Breast Clinics…
The MammaPrint test, made by Agendia, is a genomic test that analyses the activity of certain genes in early-stage breast cancer. Research suggests the MammaPrint Test may eventually be widely used to help make treatment decisions based on the cancer’s risk of coming back (recurrence) within 10 years after diagnosis. MammaPrint Testing can help some breast cancer patients avoid chemotherapy treatment – read MammaPrint Fact Sheet.
Only a licensed healthcare provider (i.e. surgeon, medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, pathologist) can submit an order request for genomic testing.
Ask a licensed doctor to order the Agendia Breast Cancer Test Suite for breast cancer. Local Agendia Molecular Oncology Specialists can assist with the ordering process. From South Africa, one should contact Agendia Customer Service in The Netherlands at +31 20 462 1500, or alternatively contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Agendia B.V., headquartered in Amsterdam in The Netherlands, provides innovative diagnostic testing for the treatment of cancer patients, which is based on gene expression analysis. For any enquiries, please email email@example.com or phone 021- 9389324.
Read more about Breast Cancer, symptoms and reducing risk:
- Infographic – Warning Signs, Myths & Facts: English (NCR 2011) | Afrikaans (NCR 2011) | Sesotho (NCR 2011) | Setswana (NCR 2011) | Xhosa (NCR 2011) | Zulu (NCR 2011)
- Leaflet – Your Breast Cancer Risk, Symptoms & Screening: English | Afrikaans
- Bookmark – Warning Signs Breast Cancer & Steps Breast Self Exmaination: English
- CANSA Position Statement & Fact Sheet Breast Cancer (female) (NCR 2012)| read about Breast Cancer (male) (NCR 2011)
- CANSA Fact Sheet Metastatic Breast Cancer (NCR 2012 n/a)
- CANSA Fact Sheet Breast Cancer, Pregancy & Breastfeeding
- CANSA Fact Sheet Phyllodes Tumours (NCR 2012 n/a)
- Link between Breast Cancer and Malignant Melanoma
- CANSA Caution re Preventative Double Mastectomy
CANSA also supports WAND (Women’s Achievement Network for Disability) in helping to reduce the risk of Breast Cancer in disabled women…
For inspiration please read the Buddies for Life online lifestyle publication for breast cancer Survivors.
Lymphoedema is a challenging complication of cancer surgery or radiation therapy and is called secondary lymphoedema (lymphoedema occurring at birth due to dysphasia is called primary oedema). It is a common side effect of treatment for women’s cancers, especially Breast Cancer.
It is the accumulation of fluid due to inactive or damaged lymph glands. Lymphoedema causes: Swelling of a body part and usually occurs in the arms or legs, but can also occur in the face, neck, abdomen or genitals. Read more: Lymphoedema Fact Sheet.
Our specially trained Lymphoedema Therapists offer Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) to manage the symptoms – contact your local CANSA Care Centre regarding treatment. Please note that not all Care Centres offer Lymphoedema treatment, but we will be able to assist with regards to referrals in this case.
Cervical Cancer is the 2nd most common cancer among South African women.
1 in 39 women in South Africa will be diagnosed with Cervical Cancer (NCR 2012).
Reduce Risk Through Pap smears
Having regular Pap smears can detect abnormal cells in the cervix (mouth of the womb), that could develop into Cervical Cancer.
We encourage all women to go for Pap smears at least every 3 years, from the age of 25, to detect abnormal cells early. However, women are entitled to be screened at a younger age. Women making use of public sector screening services are entitled to three free Pap smears per lifetime, starting at the age of 30 years or older, with a 10 year interval between each smear. Read CANSA’s Cervical Cancer Position Statement & Fact Sheet (NCR 2012) for more info…
Contact your local CANSA Care Centre to arrange for a Pap smear or if you have been diagnosed with Cervical Cancer, so that our staff can help guide you through the public health care system and offer you and your loved ones care & support.
Reduce Risk Through Vaccinations
The primary underlying cause of Cervical Cancer is the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which is transmitted through skin to skin contact and is a very common virus infecting most people at some point in their lives.
There are many types of HPV and some of the virus types can infect the cells that could lead to cancer. About 40 types are sexually transmitted through genital contact while mostly two types (16 + 18) are considered high risk in South Africa.
CANSA supports the Department of Health’s HPV School Vaccination Programme to help reduce Cervical Cancer risk – read news release…
Read more about Cervical Cancer, symptoms and reducing risk:
- Infographic ‘What You Need to Know About Cervical Cancer’: English (NCR 2011) | Afrikaans (NCR 2011) | Sesotho (NCR 2011) | Setswana (NCR 2011) | Xhosa (NCR 2011) | Zulu (NCR 2011)
- CANSA Leaflet ‘Your Cervical Cancer Risk, Symptoms & Screening’: English | Afrikaans
- CANSA Position Statement & Fact Sheet – Cervical Cancer (NCR 2012)
- CANSA Position Statement & Fact Sheet – Pap Smears During Pregnancy
- CANSA Fact Sheet – Human Papilloma Virus Infection & Cancer
- CANSA Position Statement & Fact Sheet Vaccines & Vaccination
- CANSA Fact Sheet – Cervical Dysplasia
Other Cancers Affecting Women:
- Gestational Trophoblastic Disease (NCR 2012 n/a)
- Fallopian Tube Cancer (NCR 2012 n/a)
- Ovarian Cancer (Ovary) NCR 2012 – recognise the symptoms & raise awareness…
- Primary Peritoneal Cancer (PPC) (Peritoneum) (NCR 2011)
- Uterine Cancer (Uterus) NCR 2012
- Vaginal & Vulvar Melanoma (NCR 2012 n/a)
- Vaginal Cancer (Vagina) (NCR 2012)
- Vaginal Clear-Cell Adenosarcoma (NCR 2012)
- Vulvar Cancer (Vulva) NCR 2012
Read online lifestyle publication for cancer Survivors, “Buddies for Life” and “Oncology Buddies”.
How Women can Reduce their Cancer Risk:
Be aware of the importance of the early detection of cancer. This enables more effective treatment and a better chance of recovery.
Acknowledge the importance of:
- a healthy balanced lifestyle
- no tobacco use
- avoiding alcohol
- being SunSmart
- preventative screening
- avoiding known cancer-causing factors
We also encourage women to reduce their risk of female cancers by: Avoiding hormone therapy | using condoms to help prevent sexually transmitted infections such as the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which is a high risk factor for cervical cancer | consulting a healthcare professional on the HPV vaccine | consulting a healthcare professional for advice on appropriate screening tests if there is a family history of cancer.
Hair Matters: Henna Tattoos, Hair Dye, Scalp Cooling
It is known that cancer and its treatment can weaken the body’s immune system, because it affects the blood cells that protect one’s body against disease and germs.
As a result cancer Survivors have a compromised immune system and their bodies cannot fight infection, foreign substances, allergies, and disease as well as a healthy person’s body can (American Cancer Society).
Any product like henna skin dyes that have the potential to cause any form of infection, irritation and /or allergic reaction, should be totally avoided by individuals diagnosed with cancer, those undergoing cancer treatment, as well as cancer Survivors.
- Position Statement & Fact Sheet Temporary Henna Tattoos
- Fact Sheet Scalp Cooling to Minimise Hair Loss
- Can I Use Hair Dye After Chemo?
Has Cancer Touched Your Life?
Cancer affects one in four South Africans, through diagnosis of family, friends, colleagues or self.
We want you to know that you are not alone and that we would like to support you and your loved ones, regardless of how cancer has touched your life.
Find info & online resources to help you fight cancer and please read more about CANSA’s Holistic Care & Support which is offered at our CANSA Care Centres countrywide.