December 1, 2017 Editor
Dr Ian Webster explains the process of a malignant melanoma diagnosis, and when exactly one is referred to an oncologist. Approximately 1 in 50 white   South Africans will develop a malignant melanoma in their lifetime. Therefore, it’s a reasonably common skin cancer which can also affect young people. Unfortunately, the incidence of malignant melanoma in people with a pale skin is still rising worldwide. Subtypes of malignant melanoma Superficial spreading melanoma is the easiest to recognise. It is usually greater than 7mm in size, irregular edge and irregular colour, and initially grows sideways and then downwards. Nodular melanoma usually…

December 1, 2017 Editor
Dr Nirasha Chiranjan explains why pancreatic cancer is renowned for being one of the most lethal cancers. Pancreatic cancer has been in the spotlight due to the passing of celebrities, like Patrick Swayze, Steve Jobs, Alan Rickman and Luciano Pavarotti, who all succumbed to this illness. Renowned for being one of the most lethal cancers, it is a leading cause of cancer mortality worldwide. Despite improvements in the survival rates of most other cancers, pancreatic cancer survival rates remain relatively unchanged. Risk factors The lifetime risk of developing pancreatic cancer is 1 in 671. It can occur at all…

September 28, 2017 Editor
Many specialists and cancer advocates are sounding the alarm over a rise in head and neck cancers, such as cancers of the throat or oropharynx, transmitted by the human papillomavirus (HPV) that is possibly linked to oral sexual habits. Are you at risk? Lack of awareness These symptoms (in red block below) are some of the early warning signs of head and neck cancers, including cancers of the mouth, lips, throat, larynx (voice box), nose, and salivary glands. Professor Jos Hille, an oral, head and neck pathologist at the National Health Laboratory Service (Tygerberg) and honorary secretary of the…

July 27, 2017 Editor
July is Bladder Cancer Awareness Month; Dr Chan updates us on all the need-to-know-bladder-cancer-info in the year 2017. Bladder cancer is the most common malignancy involving the urinary system. It is the ninth most common malignancy worldwide. There are two broad types of bladder cancer: urothelial and non-urothelial. Urothelial bladder cancer  This is the commonest histologic type in the Western world, consisting of more than 90% of all bladder cancer. More than 50% of patients with urothelial cancer are cigarette smokers. Occupational exposure to the chemical carcinogen (the aromatic amines) is also another risk factor for bladder cancer. Common…

July 27, 2017 Editor
Dr Peter Barrow educates us on stomach and oesophageal cancers. Stomach (gastric) cancer is a cancer that starts in any part of the stomach. Oesophageal cancer is a cancer that develops in the oesophagus – the muscular tube (food pipe) that connects the mouth to the stomach. While stomach cancer occurs in both males and females in almost equal numbers, oesophageal cancer is three to four times more common in men than in women. Risk factors One of the main risk factors for developing stomach cancer is an infection with a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori. This is the same…

January 27, 2017 Editor

0nly 10-15% of cancers can be attributed to an inherited genetic abnormality. Epigenetics is where we should be focusing our attention to prevent the rest of the cancers we diagnose.

So what is Epigenetics?  “The study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself. Epigenetics has transformed the way we think about genomes.” We have no control over the genes we are born with (yet!), but we can make choices that can modify “bad genes or SNP’s” (Single Nucleotide Polypeptides). In a patient…