22 September 2011

1 in 3 South Africans develop cancer

Cancer-related deaths worldwide will exceed the combined deaths caused by malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/Aids by 2030, the World Health Organisation has found.


The cold, hard reality is that one in three South Africans will develop cancer at some point in their lives. This is in the context of what the actual figures might represent if a reliable cancer and mortality registry existed in South Africa but it doesn’t, says lobbyist Linda Greeff.

Projections from the World Health Organisation show that cancer-related deaths worldwide will exceed the combined deaths caused by malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/Aids by 2030. This makes cancer one of the greatest threats to our society and a heavy future burden on the recently announced NHI healthcare system

To educate South Africa by exposing the realities of the illness and to grab the ear of government by lobbying to have cancer placed alongside HIV/Aids on the political agenda, an independent group of cancer survivors, educators and lobbyists have joined forces under the auspices of Cancer.vive.

Cancer.vive Motorcycle Ride

Financially underpinned by international cosmetics house Revlon and global energy company Chevron through its retail brand Caltex, Cancer.vive’s annual Educational and Awareness Motorcycle Ride from Johannesburg to Cape Town runs from 17 to 24 September 2011. The aim is to engage with at least 30 000 people throughout both rural and metropolitan South Africa during those eight days.

“We have reason to be nervous. What is most alarming is that 30% of all cancers are preventable and treatable if detected early. As it stands in the registry currently, faulty or not, South African men have a lifetime risk of one in six of getting cancer while women fair marginally better with a lifetime risk of one  in eight. And to think that we could improve one third of these South Africans’ lives through basic education,” says Miranda Anthony, Community Affairs Manager at Chevron South Africa.

“Chevron and our retail brand Caltex proudly applauds and supports Cancer.vive which ultimately aims to provide South Africans with access to quality healthcare - an essential step in combating poverty. It is vital that the private sector rallies together, as we have done around the HIV/Aids pandemic, to shift government mindset and to increase awareness,” she says.

Treatment and affordability

Anthony moves on to say that approximately 16% or eight million out of the 49.9 million South Africans are members of medical schemes. This means that less than 50% can afford access to high-end treatment. The public sector is required to care for the medical well-being of around 85% of the population.

There are approximately 74 000 registered cases of cancer per annum alone. With six academic centres and five regional centres housing 31 treatment machines and with 43 Radiation Oncologists employed, the waiting lists for radiation and chemotherapy in the Public Sector should come as no surprise.

“Towards the end of 2010, the Private Sector on the other hand had access to 38 Linac Treatment Machines, 85 Radiation Oncologists and a further 42 in training posts. Organisations such as Cancer.vive, are perfectly poised to assist in bridging the Public/ Private sector chasm to the benefit of all South Africans. They deserve our support,” enthuses Anthony.

Cancer survivor Janie du Plessis

The Cancer.vive 2011 Motorcycle Journey, fittingly kicked off on 15 September at a Caltex petrol station off Sandton’s Witkoppen Road. The ride is headed-up by cover girl, model, mother, published author, motivational speaker and cancer survivor Janie du Plessis. Astride Triumph motorcycles, she is joined by 25 other beautiful Cancer Survivors including Lillian Dube, Eliza Fernandez and Adele Du Plessis, on a high-energy Journey designed to get South Africa talking about the Shy Cancers including breast, ovarian, cervical, testicular and prostate Cancers. 

Local  communities in small towns and schools across the country, who do not normally have access to information, are reached through the powerful medium of comedy in an industrial theatre type show called Howzit My Bra scripted and performed by the hilarious Shimmy Isaacs. The group stops between six to ten times a day at different locations along the way to carry the message to as many communities as possible in positive way in seven out of the eleven official languages.

Statistics don’t put a voice to the burden that cancer creates on those affected by it. It is the stories and voices of cancer survivors, their family and friends and their communities that show its true destructive nature.

”It is for this reason that the Cancer.vive initiative really resonated with Chevron. Our retail brand Caltex, recently celebrated its 75th anniversary. To mark the occasion, we launched a new advertising campaign that asks the Caltex patrons not to focus on the destination but to celebrate the journey. It’s how you get there, the advertising line reads. We embark on this journey with Cancer.vive celebrating life, in all its guises, along the way, from surviving the dreaded C to catching it early. I can think of no better way to get there than with these inspirational survivors,” concludes Anthony.

Visit  or for updates on Cancer.vive 2011 and an itinerary.

Read more:

Healthy living can cut cancer cases
16 tips to avoid cancer
Cancer risks: truths and myths

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CANSA’s purpose is to lead the fight against cancer in South Africa. Its mission is to be the preferred non-profit organisation that enables research, educates the public and provides support to all people affected by cancer. Questions are answered by CANSA’s Head of Health Professor Michael Herbst and Head of Advocacy Magdalene Seguin. For more information, visit

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