Breast cancer is killing many women around the world, and in South Africa, that number has reached an alarming proportion.
Authorities revealed in October during the breast cancer awareness month that breast cancer affects approximately 27 in 100 000 women in South Africa, and accounts for 16% of cancer deaths amongst women.
And while one out of eight women is diagnosed with breast cancer globally, in the Western Cape, the results are even scarier – one in every two women is diagnosed with the disease.
“The number of patients seen at our symptomatic breast clinics during April 2017 – Mar 2018 comes to 7536. In 608 of these cases positive breast cancers were identified,” a report quoted Western Minister of Health, Normafrench Mbombo, as saying.
“At Groote Schuur Hospital (GSH) between 10 and 20 new breast cancers are diagnosed every week. We have seen an overall increase of 6.8% of new cancers, and most alarming is the increase in the diagnosis of cancer in women under the age of 30.”
There are many reasons so many women are diagnosed with breast cancer in South Africa, including family history.
Fear of the discomfort and pain experienced during the exam is the main reason patients avoid having a mammogram. As a result, breast cancer is often diagnosed at an advanced stage.
But early diagnosis would save many women from unnecessary death.
This week, a partnership between General Electric Healthcare and South Africa’s National Radiology Services Incorporated at the Netcare Waterfall City Private Hospital hopes to reverse the trend with the launch of the new Senographe.
Pristina mammography system is designed to make breast screening more comfortable and inviting for patients.
NRS Inc also launched its upgraded SIGNA Explorer G2 MRI, which will offer increased diagnostic quality, patient comfort and enable clinicians improve workflow.
“We are excited to collaborate with NRS Inc on the MRI upgrade and Pristina mammography system. The MRI upgrade will enable NRS Inc to access the increased efficiency of SIGNA Explorer while the Pristina will support better health outcomes for current and future generations of women,” said Graham Maritz, General Manager, at GE Healthcare South Africa.
“Through such initiatives, we are working to make a reality in South Africa, increased access to quality and efficient healthcare solutions.”
SIGNA is built on the high definition MRI platform, and the upgrade to SIGNA Explorer G2 will lead to improved operational experience and patient satisfaction through shorter scans and fewer repeated scans.
It is projected that NRS will benefit by up to 30 percent increase in procedures due to potential increased throughput and referrals.
GE healthcare partners with radiologists, technologists and most importantly, patients, to create a mammography experience that is designed to deliver higher diagnostic accuracy for the detection of breast cancer during a mammogram. Pristina is engineered by Women for Women- putting the women at the heart. NRS Inc is the first to install the system in South Africa.
Senographe Pristina features a new ergonomic design to reduce physical strain with dedicated functionalities for easier patient positioning and comfort during the mammogram. By making patients more comfortable during the breast exam, technologists can focus on more suitable positioning, enabling a faster and smoother 3D mammogram experience for both the patient and the technologist.
Speaking during the unveiling ceremony, Dr Samantha Palliam said that early breast cancer detection has always been a priority for NRS Inc. “Unfortunately, because of the anxieties associated with mammography this is not always the reality. The Pristina mammography unit addresses some of these issues by reducing discomfort and allowing the patient to feel more in control. Added to this are the advantages of tomosynthesis and the use of contrast enhanced mammography for better detection,” she said.
Simon is a renowned international journalist, founder and publisher of TODAY NEWS AFRICA in Washington D.C.