Knowledge is power and could save a life. Cancer is a dreadful disease but by identifying the early warning signs and symptoms, it could lead to an early diagnosis which significantly improves the chance for survival.
The staff of Provincial Treasury recently hosted a Cancer Awareness drive to share information about cancer and to raise funds for those affected by the disease. In total R5600 was raised and will soon be officially handed over to Red Cross (children hospital).
According to statistics from the National Cancer Registry, the top five cancers affecting women and men in South Africa include Breast, Prostate, Cervical, Colorectal, Uterine and Lung Cancer.
Top two cancers affecting South African Women
Breast Cancer is the most common cancer among women of all races, with a 4% possibility of developing this cancer. The risk for breast cancer increases as women grow older however many women under the age of 40 are diagnosed with breast cancer. All women are at risk, particularly women with a family history of breast cancer. Being overweight, inactive, alcohol consumption, poor dietary habits, smoking and exposure to chemicals also increase the risk. Regular examinations which can be done through self-examination or by visiting a clinic allow for an early diagnosis and significantly improves the chance of beating this cancer.
Cervical Cancer is the second most common cancer among South African women. Women have a 2% chance of developing cervical cancer in their lifetime but can be successfully treated if detected during its early stage. Symptoms include abnormal bleeding between periods, heavier and longer menstrual periods, vaginal discharge, vaginal bleeding or pain during intercourse or after menopause and an increase in urinary frequency. Cervical cancer is mainly caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), a common virus spread through skin-to-skin contact, body fluids and sexual intercourse. Failure to use protection during sexual intercourse, the presence of sexually transmitted infection (STIs), having multiple sexual partners, an early sexual debut and the use of oral contraceptives increases the risk for this type of cancer. To reduce the risk of developing this type of cancer, it is recommended that women have regular Pap Smears to detect abnormal cells in the cervix that could develop into cancer. Screening involves taking a swab of the cervical cells which is an uncomfortable procedure but painless.
Top two cancers affecting South African Men
Prostate Cancer risk factors includes age, ethnicity, family history, obesity and poor diet habits. Men can lower their risk of developing prostate cancer by eating a healthy diet which include lots of fruit and vegetables, maintaining a healthy weight and limiting their intake of red meat and high fat dairy products. Check out the healthy meals article on MyTreasury.
Colorectal Cancer is the cancer of the colon or rectum and the second most common cancer among men in South Africa. It is estimated that 1 out of 79 men in South Africa will develop colorectal cancer. There are no symptoms during the early stages of this cancer but when they eventually do occur, it includes a change in bowel habits, rectal bleeding, stomach pain, weakness and weight loss.
Most cancers are treatable and through early detection, a treatment plan can be developed which significantly improves the chances of survival. Give yourself a fighting chance by having regular medical checkups and seeking immediate medical attention when symptoms mentioned above occur.
This article is dedicated to the brave men and women who have beaten cancer and the ones that are still fighting this disease.