The cancer register has not been updated for eight years, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has indicated in a written reply to a parliamentary question. Motsoaledi said the last report was in 2004.
The SA National Cancer Registry planned to produce reports every three years, in line with the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), he said.
The IARC recommended that cancer incidences should be reported over a period of three to five years, when sufficient numbers of people diagnosed with cancer had accumulated.
According to the Statistics SA report on mortality and causes of death in South Africa, 6.3% of deaths were due to cancers in 2009.
The top 10 cancers
The top 10 cancers for women were breast, cervix, basal cell carcinoma, primary site uknown, squamous cell carcinoma of skin, uterus, colorectal, melanoma, oesophagus, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
For men, the top 10 cancers were basal cell carcinoma, prostate, squamous cell carcinoma of skin, primary site unknown, lung, colorectal, oesophagus, bladder, melanoma, and Kaposi's sarcoma, Motsoaledi said.
Commenting on the reply, Democratic Alliance spokeswoman Denise Robinson, said updating the cancer register and mortality statistics was crucial in the fight against cancer, as this information provided focus and direction to health programmes and research.
"According to the SA Health Review published in 2011, 84 180 people were expected to be diagnosed with cancer this year, with the figure rising to 109,956 by 2025," she said in a statement.
Importance of the register
A register would assess the prevalence of the different types of cancer and identify the geographical areas and the demographics associated with the disease.
This information would then be used to drive appropriately directed early detection initiatives, such as awareness campaigns and testing, and to strategically allocate human and medical resources to the correct facilities and areas.
Robinson intended asking Motsoaledi to table a report to the health portfolio committee regarding the steps he was taking to ensure that the data was updated.
(Sapa, Deccember 2012)
Living with cancer