Three universities will get R37 million for research towards fighting cancer, the Sunday Times reported.
The money, from the Medical Research Council, would be used to set up research units. The University of Cape Town (UCT) would focus on gynaecological cancers, including those of the cervix, uterus and ovaries.
The University of Witwatersrand would concentrate on cancers of the breast, colon and pancreas, and the University of KwaZulu-Natal on cancers of the oesophagus, gall bladder, and liver.
Head of African Cancer Institute and chairman of an advisory committee on cancer, Prof Vikash Sewram, said more cancers were being diagnosed because more people were being screened.
"But where the focus needs to be is priority cancers," he was quoted as saying.
He said the intention was to ensure accurate cancer surveillance, better and quicker diagnosis, and access to treatment.
Prof Lynette Denny - who would lead the UCT's research team - said cancer had been sidelined by other infectious diseases.
"As cancer has been neglected for so long, there is a great deal of catching up to do."
Breast cancer: the latest research
Researchers find origin cells for cervical cancer
Physicists, medical researchers to team up on cancer