A recent study published by medical journal Lancet predicts that South Africa could see an increase of 78% in the number of cancer cases by 2030. From a global perspective, a 75% increase is expected, increasing the total incidence of all new cancer-cases from 12.7 million in 2008 to 22.2 million by 2030.
“Already cancer is one of the world’s leading causes of death and has the greatest economic impact in the form of premature death and disability. A recent study conducted by Livestrong and the American Cancer Society estimated the total global economic impact of premature death and disability resulting from cancer was $895 billion in 2008. The figure represents 1.5% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP). The economic impact of a 75% global increase, and 78% local increase, could well be devastating,” says Professor Jacques Snyman, clinical advisor for Resolution Health Medical Scheme.
South Africa is ranked 50th on the World Cancer Research Fund’s list of countries with the highest cancer prevalence rates. Prostate cancer is the number one cancer diagnosed amongst South African men followed by lung, oesophagus, colon/rectum and bladder cancer. Amongst women, the most prevalent is breast cancer followed by cervical, uterus, colorectal and oesophageal cancer.
“Important to keep in mind when looking at the statistics is that, while the incidence of cancer has most certainly been on the increase, more patients are diagnosed earlier on and more accurately than before due to technological advancements and increased access to healthcare services. Those at particular risk of developing certain cancers include an ageing population and those suffering from HIV/Aids due to the strong correlation between immune competence and certain cancers,” says Snyman.
Early detection key
According to Snyman, early detection remains key to more successful outcomes when treating cancer and consumer empowerment is critical to ensure that the right tests are done timeously to reduce unnecessary suffering and enhance the chances of cure.
“Studies have found that a woman diagnosed with Stage I breast cancer has an 88% chance of cure. Diagnosed at Stage IV, the survival rate dramatically decreases with only 15% of those diagnosed surviving for more than 5 years. Regular self-examination and mammograms play a key role in the early detection of breast cancer and high risk female consumers who have a positive family history for example, should essentially undergo the procedure once a year,” says Snyman.
Snyman believes that medical schemes have an integral role to play in encouraging the early detection of cancer via preventative care models. “Most medical schemes have incorporated procedures such as mammograms, pap smears and prostate testing into their benefit structures. Medical schemes are perfectly positioned to educate and encourage members to take advantage of these benefits on an annual basis.”
Snyman believes that medical schemes should dedicate additional effort to educating members about the risks associated with lifestyle choices. “For example, obesity enhances the incidence of breast and colon cancer while smoking is responsible for more than 90% of all lung cancers. Unprotected sex with various partners also increases the risk of papiloma virus infections with subsequent cervical cancer in women. By simply encouraging consumers to modify their lifestyles, their risk of developing these cancers can be dramatically reduced,” Snyman concludes.
Resolution Health medical scheme press release
- (Health24, June 2012)
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