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

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…

December 4, 2017 Editor
Lenmed Ahmed Kathrada Private Hospital, one of the eleven hospitals of the Lenmed Health Group, officially opened a state of the art cancer institute in Lenasia, this September. Lenmed is confident that the Ahmed Kathrada Cancer Institute (AKCI), through its exceptional  team of high calibre specialists and  a modern infrastructure, will make world-class cancer diagnoses and treatment options accessible to neighbouring communities. Mr Amil Devchand, COO of the Lenmed Health Group, says, “We will ensure a positive impact to the quality of lives of our patients and their families.” The new cancer institute features premium technology in a warm, patient-friendly, modern …

December 1, 2017 Editor
Dr Ronwyn van Eeden explains when a port for chemotherapy is needed. What is a port? It’s a device or drum, usually made from plastic or metal, that is placed under the skin of the chest. The drum is covered by a thin silicone membrane, through which a specialised needle is inserted. The port is completely under your  skin and you can usually only feel a small bump. From that a thin tube, called a catheter, runs directly into a large vein. Your chemotherapy runs through this catheter into the vein. There are different brands of ports. A topical anaesthetic…

December 1, 2017 Editor
If you have survived cancer, you are more than likely dealing with the unfortunate consequence – sexual dysfunction. Corina Avni offers treatment options. If your cancer was in the pelvis or involved the sex hormones, your sex life is more than likely to be a common casualty of war. The good news, however, is although many cancer survivors suffer sexual dysfunction after cancer and its treatments, the majority overcome anything from discomfort to severe pain. Why the change? Sexual dysfunction after cancer ranges from not-quite-the-same-as-before to a-no-go-zone. This is dependent on: Who you are and your pre-cancer sexual function e.g….

September 28, 2017 Editor
Dr Yossi Unterslak offers ways to preserve fertility before cancer treatment. Damaged caused Chemotherapies and radiation therapies can damage women’s ovaries and induce premature menopause, significantly harming fertility. Cancer patients who are set to undergo chemotherapy or radiotherapy need to consider preserving their fertility. Options are available to secure patients’ future families, but this requires immediate action after diagnosis. The entire fertility preservation process can be completed before patients start therapy; in the time they’re waiting for medical aids to authorise treatment and while they finish off work. Freezing of eggs For single women, who don’t have partners, egg…

July 27, 2017 Editor
Dr Cathryn Walton explains how pain management in oncology works. Pain is the most commonly feared symptom in a cancer patient. It is also   the most misunderstood symptom. Fifty percent of patients have some form of pain at diagnosis of cancer. Thirty percent will have pain during treatment but 90% have pain as a symptom at the end of life. With a better understanding of pain and the management thereof, patients can feel in control of their lives. They have an improved quality of life and functionality. The management of pain in oncology is complex. It’s more than…