February 7, 2018 Editor

Cynthia Rawcliffe speaks about the highs and lows of her thyroid cancer diagnosis.

Cynthia Rawcliffe (48) lives in Athlone, Cape Town. She has a 19-year-old daughter.  Struggling to breathe In March 2014, Cynthia was often short of breath. She would sleep in a sitting position as this eased her breathing. Her GP diagnosed her with asthma. A week later, she was rushed to the hospital. After numerous tests, she was told it was a lung infection caused by her smoking. It was only two days later that one doctor detected a mass in her neck. She underwent a…

February 7, 2018 Editor

Any cancer diagnosis is traumatic and can cause confusion and anxiety, the team at the Ahmed Kathrada Cancer Institute have put together some guidelines to help you prepare as best as possible for your first oncology visit.

Before your appointment Bring someone with you – it is always good to have support, it will also help to have someone to make sense of everything that will be discussed. Draw up a list of your questions, often many concerns are forgotten while trying to absorb all the information from the appointment. During your appointment Questions to ask: What is…

February 7, 2018 Editor

Kim White helps us understand the income tax implications of our medical costs.

When facing unforeseen medical bills it is important to gain a basic understanding of South African tax laws so that you have the ability to claim contributions and expenses in your tax return. Income tax law and rules can be a little tricky but a good starting point is grasping what the law says and how to apply it to your current situation. It’s also strongly advisable to seek the assistance of a tax practitioner so he/she can well apply the laws and allowances relative to…

February 7, 2018 Editor

An immuno-oncology drug, Pembrolizumab, recently received regulatory approval by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority. Dr Ronwyn van Eeden tells us more about the new drug.

Pembrolizumab has been registered in SA for two types of cancers. The first is a type of lung cancer, called non-small cell lung cancer. It’s registered for patients who have failed or     progressed after initial treatment, such as chemotherapy. Usually the drug works better if the expression of PD-L1 (programmed cell death ligand-1) on the cancer is more than 51% as shown in clinical trials. The amount of PD-L1 on the…

February 7, 2018 Editor

An Bakkes’ story is set to change the lives of mothers facing the trauma of a cancer diagnosis.

Diagnosed during first pregnancy At the age of 34, An was diagnosed with Stage 4 melanoma metastatic cancer. She was pregnant with her first child. The shock of the diagnosis was one that her doctor couldn’t bear to give her when he first found out. “My doctor postponed my appointment until the end of the weekend as he didn’t know how to tell a pregnant woman she has Stage 4 cancer,” An recalls. She went through the remaining months of her…

February 7, 2018 Editor

Retired stem cell co-ordinator, Mary Farrell, explains the ins and outs of an autologous stem cell transplant.

What is an autologous stem cell transplant? An autologous stem cell transplant is also known as high-dose chemotherapy with stem cell rescue. The word autologous (of cells and tissues) means obtained from the same individual. Not from a donor. The cells of the individual are collected in advance and stored. Then after high-dose chemotherapy is given to treat the underlying disease, the cells are returned to ‘rescue’ the patient’s bone marrow. What illnesses are autologous stem cell transplant used for? An autologous…

February 7, 2018 Editor

Gastrointestinal toxicity can occur following irradiation of thoracic, abdominal, or pelvic malignancies if gastrointestinal structures are located within the radiation therapy (RT) field. Dr Sudeshen Naidoo explains further.

The incidence and severity of RT side effects depend upon the site, volume of tissue exposed, and treatment schedule, including total dose, dose per fraction, and type of radiation. Other risk factors for radiation-induced GI toxicity include the use of concomitant chemotherapy. 1. Oesophagitis Normal oesophageal mucosa undergoes continuous cell turnover and renewal. Acute radiation oesophagitis is primarily due to effects on the basal epithelial layer. This causes a thinning  of…