Sep 30, 2019 Word for Word Media
Talking about death with those close to us is not about being ghoulish or giving up on life. But, a way to ensure greater quality of life. Lee Last explains what an advance directive is and why it is essential. Two classes of advance directives (AD) A living will is a document that enables a patient to refuse unwanted life-sustaining treatment (by withholding or withdrawing it) when they are no longer able to do so, due to irreversible decision-making incompetence. A durable power of attorney for healthcare is a document that enables a patient to transfer their healthcare (including medical) decision-making to another…

Sep 30, 2019 Word for Word Media
There is numerous terminology when it comes to research and trials; Kyara Bergstrom breaks down the basics for us. Many patients believe that clinical research involves only the testing of new medications or devices. Though, let’s look at the definition of clinical: “Relating to the observation and treatment of actual patients rather than theoretical or laboratory studies.” Hence, clinical trials. With this said, healthy volunteers are also needed so that researchers can compare their results to the results of the patients with the illness being studied. Types of research Treatment research can be an intervention, such as medication, new devices,…

Jul 29, 2019 Word for Word Media

In the previous article, we mentioned the importance of cancer advocacy to bring attention to areas of need in terms of cancer services in South Africa. Here are the eight challenges that were found in the research1. ONE: Emotional challenges  The total lack of psychosocial support services. The sparsity of psychosocial support services was reported in both the public and private oncology services in SA. Only a small number of patients could access support from a few cancer charities. The management of distress associated with cancer is a core part of the treatment protocol and is not sufficiently prioritised in SA oncology…

May 30, 2019 Word for Word Media
Salomé Meyer informs us of the recent picket held outside the WHO Fair Pricing Forum at Emperors Palace, Gauteng. Civil society meeting “Cancer is the new HIV!” is how Mark Heywood, former executive director of Section27, described the cancer crisis in SA at the Civil Society Stakeholder meeting arranged between Cancer Alliance and Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), in April.  The reality is with the successful treatment of people living with HIV, many are now living longer than expected and are facing co-morbidities, such as cancer.  At this meeting, it was agreed that Cancer Alliance, TAC, Section27 and organised labour…

May 30, 2019 Word for Word Media
All cancer survivors and people touched by cancer are encouraged to step up and add their voice to the efforts made by Cancer Alliance to address the cancer care crisis in SA. Why should cancer patients be involved in advocacy? As cancer advocates, we are the watchdogs regarding improved service delivery to cancer patients; getting more affordable pricing of cancer medication for all South Africans; and ensuring that cancer policies and strategic plans are implemented.  The current breakdown of healthcare services in the state sector is of great concern and we need to be the voice asking and pushing for change and…

Feb 5, 2019 Word for Word Media

Lynette van Schaik, a mother of two, tells us how immunotherapy killed her aggressive Stage 4 melanoma cancer. Lynette van Schaik (37) lives in Nigel, Gauteng with her husband, Hein, and their sons, Alexander and Ruben, aged 13  and 10. Stage 3 melanoma My first encounter with melanoma was in 2010 when I had a mole removed from my back. It didn’t display any warning signs, even my doctor wasn’t worried. When the tests came back it was Stage 3 melanoma, and a wider excision was needed. I didn’t get any other treatment as the treating doctor didn’t think it was…

Jun 1, 2018 Word for Word Media
Ivor Hobbs from the South African National Blood Service (SANBS) tells us how donated blood helps cancer patients. What are donated blood and blood products used for?  There are numerous uses for blood and blood products. The most common uses are:  Treatment of medical conditions, such as anaemia or cancer. Complications which arise during childbirth. Scheduled operations. Paediatric patients who have haematological issues and trauma.   Blood products are also used in the creation of immunoglobulins. These help  with preventing and treating conditions, such as rabies, shingles and tetanus. In addition, blood products are even used to make specialised eye…

Mar 26, 2018 Laurelle Williams

Considering the 20th annual Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week (OHANCAW), held during 8-15 April, Life Groenkloof Hospital Medical Centre: Suite 110 Groenkloof 0181 will be offering free cancer screenings from 8:00 to 18:00 on 11 April 2018.   In 2018, it is estimated that there will be more than 120,000 new cases of oral, head and neck cancer diagnosed, and unfortunately, many individuals will not be aware of the cancer until it has reached an advanced stage. Oral, head and neck cancers now ranked in the top six cancers worldwide. The US Head and Neck Cancer Alliance (HNCA), along…

Feb 7, 2018 Word for Word Media

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…

Feb 7, 2018 Word for Word Media

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…

Dec 1, 2017 Word for Word Media
Cape Town is the healthiest city in South Africa.The city has the highest number of people who are a healthy weight, plus they purchase the most vegetables and fruit when compared with South Africa’s other major cities. Discovery Vitality ObeCity Index 2017 This is according to the Discovery Vitality ObeCity Index 2017, which presents the latest insights on weight status (measured by Body Mass Index and waist circumference) and food purchasing behaviour of nearly half a million Vitality members in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban, Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth. “Insights from the Vitality ObeCity Index 2017 allow us to better…

Jun 5, 2017 Word for Word Media

Infection with certain viruses can sometimes cause cancer. Some of these infections can be prevented by vaccines and therefore the chance of getting certain types of cancer can be minimised. Dr Sze Wai Chan, a medical oncologist, talks us through some of the common viruses that are linked to cancer.

What are viruses? Viruses are tiny organisms containing genetic material – deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) or ribonucleic acid (RNA) – and are covered by a protein shell. When cancer causing viruses infect a living cell, the virus DNA or RNA enters…

Dec 1, 2016 Word for Word Media
With World AIDS Day observed on 1st December, Dr Sarah Rayne talks about the connection between HIV/AIDS and cancers. HIV/AIDS affects one fifth of women of reproductive age in South Africa (SA). It is caused by infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which attacks and eventually destroys the immune system of the body. Because the immune system is not working, people are more at risk of infections and some types of cancer. They may also suffer from other health problems related to these. HIV spreads through bodily fluids, and the most common way it is passed in SA…

May 1, 2016 Word for Word Media
Stress and the Immune System’s reaction to a Cancer Diagnosis Receiving a diagnosis of cancer may feel like receiving a death sentence. Nowadays the word cancer is synonymous with death. I was speaking to a Hospice doctor the other day and he said that back in the day, people used to die from old age but now they die from cancer. This is largely due to the fact that we are now able to detect what people die from. This explains why the word “cancer” is synonymous with “death”. Survival is the top priority for all living organisms. Our bodies are fine-tuned to take…

May 1, 2016 Word for Word Media

According to the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), 30 – 40% of cancers can be reduced through lifestyle factors. These include diet and exercise, as well as the avoidance of cancer causing agents (called carcinogens) – and they can all help to reduce the cancer risk. As part of its Balanced Lifestyle campaign, CANSA offers pointers on how to reduce the cancer risk, by making informed lifestyle choices. “Some obvious choices in helping you reach healthy behaviour include the following; avoid tobacco use, exercise regularly, eat regularly choosing less processed foods, choose a combination of more raw or steam,…

Jan 1, 2016 Word for Word Media
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death worldwide, ranking number one for both sexes. Lung cancer can be broadly divided into two categories: non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer. According to the American Cancer Society (http://www.cancer. org/cancer/lungcancer), non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) accounts for 85- 90% of lung cancers while small cell lung cancer accounts for 10-15% of all lung cancers. NSCLC has three major subtypes: squamous cell carcinoma (25- 30%), adenocarcinoma (40%), and large cell carcinoma (10-15%). The majority of lung cancer is related to tobacco smoking, but 10-15% of lung cancers occur in lifelong never smokers1. Adenocarcinoma currently accounts for approximately 39%…