Like the rest of the world, the University acknowledged World Cancer Day by amplifying the important message – that cancer kills, and that early detection is often the key to surviving cancer. This message was delivered by Zamokuhle Mbatha of the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) on 3 February 2023 on MUT Radio, a day before the World Cancer Day. This day was established in February 2000, at the World Summit Against Cancer for the New Millennium, in Paris, France.
Mbatha shared her concern about late diagnosis explaining that when the disease has reached stage four, it is too late. Mbatha said CANSA encouraged people to do regular check-ups for early detection.
“We can beat cancer if it is discovered early. Cancer can also be managed,” Mbatha said.
Mbatha added that CANSA encourages people to read about cancer, and to treat those being treated for cancer in a humane manner.
“We should stop judging those suffering from cancer,” Mbatha said. She also appealed to any medical practitioners to refer people with cancer to the correct health professionals. Traditional healers should refer cancer patients to clinics, she said. Mbatha herself is a traditional healer.
Sister Bongiwe Sithole of the MUT Clinic and Mbatha both agreed that some of the causes of cancer were hereditary, the environment, and lifestyle, like smoking. Various examples of cancer include bladder cancer; breast cancer (for both women and men); prostate cancer; uterine cancer; cervical cancer; and lung cancer. In her presentation, Mbatha dispelled some of the myths about the disease. For instance, Mbatha said that contrary to popular belief, vapour smoking is no better than ordinary cigarettes. Vapour smoking or vaping as it is commonly known, has chemicals that are harmful to the body just like cigarettes. Mbatha said the new trend is that more women are taking up smoking.
“Now more women die as a result of smoking, and secondary smokers suffer more than the primary smokers,” Mbatha said.
Mbatha said that all types of cancers are contracted by all race groups. Mbatha also reiterated that anyone can get skin cancer, even dark-skinned people, she said.
“But light-skinned [people] have more chances. Sunscreen can help. But look for one with CANSA sign; those are more reliable.
Mbatha also appealed to people living with albinism to wear long-sleeved clothing, and hats with full cover, the baseball caps do not provide full cover.