14 March 2019

Cancer diagnoses at Tembisa Hospital mirror rest of SA

Cancer diagnoses in Tembisa reflect the state of the disease across South Africa.

An overview of all the patients diagnosed with cancer at Tembisa Hospital in 2017 shows that the township mirrors the same cancer issues seen across the whole of South Africa.

Breast and cervical cancer ranked among the top five most common cancers in women, while for men it was prostate and lung cancer. This is according to cancer statistics from Tembisa Hospital for the year 2017.

Leading cancer cases

Hospital spokesperson, Nothando Mdluli said that despite not having a dedicated oncology unit, the hospital is able to diagnose cancer.

“At the hospital, each department is able to diagnose cancer and do all the necessary investigations. We then refer patients to Steve Biko Hospital for management.”

The statistics show that 96 women were diagnosed with breast cancer, while 64 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer. These were the leading cancer cases at the hospital.

Colorectal cancer and cancer of uterus and lungs came third, fourth and fifth in women. In men colorectal cancer was third, followed by cancer of the oesophagus and bladder.

These statistics were consistent with the national cancer registry of 2013, where prostate cancer was identified as the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men, and breast cancer in women.

Priscilla Makaya (70) was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2010 at Tembisa Hospital. This happened after she was made to wait six weeks for an appointment for a check up.

'Treatment saved my life'

“I did not understand why I had to wait for six weeks before I could get my pap smear results back. I was so worried my condition would worsen because it was not normal for menopausal woman to be bleeding and having period pains.”

Makaya was transferred to Steve Biko Hospital where she underwent radiotherapy, chemotherapy and brachytherapy (also known as internal radiation).

“The treatment I received in hospital saved my life. It was painful, but when you are in pain nothing else matters. You just want to be healed.”

Makaya now rates among the six in 10 South Africans who survive cancer. But unlike the 90% of all cancers that are caused by environmental and lifestyle factors such as smoking, poor diet and lack of exercise; Makaya’s cancer was found to have been genetic – inherited from her mother who died from cervical cancer.

“Since finding out that cancer is in our genes, I try to encourage my children to have regular check-ups. And because they were there for me when I underwent treatment, they understand the importance of this.”

– Health-e News.

Image credit: Marcia Zali


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