breast cancer screening
About 500 women with breast cancer urgently need radiation therapy. Photo: PEXELS

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Breast cancer screening can save lives

Breast cancer remains a pressing issue among women in South Africa, trailing closely behind non-melanoma skin cancer in prevalence.

01-11-23 12:32
breast cancer screening
About 500 women with breast cancer urgently need radiation therapy. Photo: PEXELS

Apart from non-melanoma skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women in South Africa with a lifetime risk of 1 in 27, according to the 2019 National Cancer Registry (NCR).

The Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) urges women to go for annual health check-ups and screening to detect cancer early.

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There is growing concern that most women present with late-stage cancers, which makes for a difficult prognosis.

CANSA’s National Manager for Health Promotion, Lorraine Govender, said CANSA plays an active role in educating women about the symptoms of breast cancer, and how to do monthly self-examination of breasts.

“Research has shown that a regular Breast Self-Examination (BSE) plays an important role in discovering breast cancer, compared to finding a breast lump by chance. While not all breast lumps indicate cancer, they should be investigated.  It’s vital to educate yourself and get to know the warning signs and symptoms,” explained Govender.

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The association offers Clinical Breast Examinations (CBE) at CANSA Care Centres to detect any irregularities and patients with medical aid benefits can claim from their medical aids once they have paid for the screening.

“Women are entitled to an annual clinical breast examination when visiting primary health care centres (according to the National Department of Health’s Breast Cancer Control Policy),” Govender said.


A mammogram (a special x-ray to detect lumps in the breast) does not prevent breast cancer, however, can save lives by detecting breast cancer as early as possible.

Women from the age of 40 should go for an annual mammogram, for purposes of non-symptomatic breast screening. Women 55 years and older, should have a mammogram every two years – or if they choose, continue with an annual mammogram.

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Women can also be screened at public hospital breast imaging units.  – This article was supplied by CANSA.