February 2, 2017 Sandra

We have all heard about the HPV vaccination and how it can save lives but how exactly does it work? Specialist gynaecologist, Dr Pam Pillay, expounds on this in light of January being Cervical Cancer Awareness Month.

Cervical cancer remains the most common gynaecological malignancy in women, and is associated with the highest cancer-related mortality rate. Its prevalence in sub-Saharan Africa remains high due to inadequate screening, lack of education, low compliance amongst women, and health inequity. Cervical cancer and pre-cancer is caused primarily by the human papilloma virus…

January 27, 2017 Sandra

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…

January 2, 2017 Sandra

Currently, doctors only use three primary senses to diagnose a patient: hearing, sight, and touch. But, why use three senses when we could be using four? This is where our furry friends come in, adding the fourth sense – olfaction – to help diagnose cancer. In no way is it suggested to replace medical equipment or diagnosis; dogs are simply adding to the equation.

Searching for cancer through volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is a relatively new idea in science, with huge possibilities. Published studies from all over the world are proving accuracy levels that are beyond current available machines’…

December 1, 2016 Sandra

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…

September 21, 2016 Sandra
Many cancer patients and their families receive the advice, from their healthcare team, that there is no response to treatment, and that cure or long-term remission is no longer possible. Once this ‘advanced stage’ has been reached, the treatment plan changes from curative to palliative, and the first priority of families is to ensure their loved ones receive the best medical and supportive care, for improved quality of life, for the remaining time they have. The Advanced Illness Benefit, which is offered by Discovery Health Medical Scheme, does…

September 21, 2016 Sandra

Dr Cathy Agnew explains the importance of a good doctor-patient relationship.

I’m sitting in my office, in consultation, with a patient. She is seeing me for a check-up and we have been through a   full history and examination, and have discussed the road ahead – which special investigations she needs and what therapy will benefit her. Her script for her hypertension medications needs to be renewed and we have discussed the supplements she is taking. Imperceptibly she shifts in her chair, but I am busy with the prescription so don’t take too much notice. She smiles, takes the…

September 21, 2016 Sandra

Throat cancer, in particular oropharynx cancer, is such a concerning cancer now, because it is one of the few head and neck cancers with a rising incidence, unlike others which are decreasing due to the general decrease in smoking worldwide. Currently more than half of oropharynx cancers are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).

What is the oropharynx? It is the middle part of the throat behind the mouth. Most cancers start in the palate tonsils (or where they used to be) and the base of the tongue.

HPV is the most…