What are the top five cancers affecting women and what can you do to reduce your risks?

The top five cancers affecting women in South Africa are breast, cervical, colorectal, uterine and lung cancer.

This is according to statistics from the National Cancer Registry (NCR) 2014.

“It’s important to empower women with knowledge regarding lowering their cancer and health risk and recognising warning signs,” says Elize Joubert, CEO of the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA).

Joubert says that CANSA encourages monthly breast self-examinations, annual medical check-ups and cancer screening for early detection, as symptoms don’t always present until cancer has spread.

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“Women need to lead a healthy, balanced lifestyle, cutting out lifestyle factors that increase their cancer risk,” says Joubert.

Here are CANSA’s top tips for reducing your risk of developing these forms of cancer…

1. Breast cancer

This is the most common form of cancer in women, affecting one in 27 women.

With such a high incidence, it’s vital that all women know what the warning signs of breast cancer are and examine their breasts regularly.

View the infographic below for warning signs and symptoms.

On Friday, 26 October 2018, CANSA Care Centres are holding a national Clinical Breast Examination Screening Day teaching women how to do breast self-examinations while nurses perform Clinical Breast Examinations. Mobile Health Clinics offer these services to women in remote rural areas. To see the schedule, click here

“When I eventually went for a second opinion we found out I had stage three triple negative breast cancer. I was 28 the first time and now at 32, I’ve just finished treatment for a recurrence.” – Melissa Willemse

Check your breasts

Don’t assume that you’re too young to start self-examinations.

“When it comes to breast cancer age is not a factor,” says breast cancer survivor Melissa Willemse. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in her 20s.

“The first doctor I saw immediately dismissed my question about the painful lump under my arm because I was too young for breast cancer. When I eventually went for a second opinion we found out I had stage three triple negative breast cancer. I was 28 the first time and now at 32, I’ve just finished treatment for a recurrence.

She says that if you feel something is wrong, don’t hesitate to get a second opinion.

How to examine your breasts

CANSA advocates a mammogram every year for all women from age 40 for purposes of non-symptomatic breast screening.

Visit the CANSA website for a list of public hospitals and clinics offering mammograms. Also, mammograms are offered at reduced fees at participating Radiological Society of South Africa affiliated mammography clinics during October.

Click page 2 below for more…

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.