All posts by Harris

South African Breast Cancer Policy

Breast Cancer Prevention and Control Policy

By Trish Muzenda and Lelani Hobane

Breast cancer is the leading type of cancer diagnosed in women globally. Since 2008, the incidence of breast cancer has been evenly distributed globally, with 50% of breast cancer incidence occurring in the developing world. However of the total cases, approximately 58% of breast cancer mortality occurs in the developing world. Given these statistics, it is ever more important for governments in developing nations to take issues of breast cancer seriously and design contextual prevention and control strategies. In South Africa, the lifetime risk for breast cancer is 1 in 29. This risk is high and therefore requires that the department of health have guidelines that are there for screening of cases so as to improve diagnosis of breast cancer as well as treatment and rehabilitation following breast cancer diagnosis. To mirror the growing importance of breast health care in South Africa, the South African National Department of health has published a revised Breast cancer Policy brief as of June 2017. This policy outlines the guidelines to be used by all stakeholders towards health promotion, screening and treatment of breast cancer. Whilst the policy does touch on prevention of breast cancer, the backbone idea in the breast cancer policy of 2017 lies in improving the screening capacity for breast cancer.

Through the National Health Insurance (NHI) which is the central means by which the government aims to achieve universal coverage, the government is revitalising service delivery, changing the way that health services are financed, ensuring the provision of primary care, improving access to qualified human resources for health, and ensuring the availability of quality assured medical products. For the breast cancer policy, this can be seen in that much thought has been put into the use of all primary healthcare facilities as centres for the opportunistic education of women on general breast health including breast cancer risk factors. The policy also advocates for the education of women on how to practise Breast Self-Examination (BSE) and the importance of receiving a routine clinical breast examination (CBE). Additionally the establishment and maintenance of Specialised Breast Units set up in various tertiary level health facilities are to be used as referral points for suspected breast cancer cases for further diagnosis.

Source link: Breast Cancer Policy 2017.

Racial Variation in Cervical Cancer Mortality Rates

Study Reveals Significantly Higher Cervical Cancer Mortality Rates among Black Women Compared to White Women

By Harris Onywera

Cervical cancer is the first and second most common cancer type among reproductive-age women in South Africa and world, correspondingly. The incidence rate per 100,000 population is higher in less developed regions (15.7%) than in more developed regions (9.9%). Globally, it is estimated that 527,624 cervical cancer cases reported annually, concomitantly with about 50.4% new cervical cancer deaths.

There is documented evidence for racial disparity in cervical cancer mortality rates. A recent survey estimating the cervical cancer mortality rates in the US from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results and National Centre for Health Statistics county mortality data (2000-2012) found that after correcting for hysterectomy, Black and White women had 76% and 48% higher cervical cancer mortality rates, respectively, than previously estimated. The prevalence of hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus) was higher in Black women than in White women. Prior to excluding women with hysterectomies, (uncorrected) cervical cancer mortality rate was 5.7 and 3.2 per 100,000 in Black and White women, respectively (Figure 1). In the same order, the corrected rates were 10.1 and 4.7 per 100,000. It was also observed that age-specific cervical cancer mortality rates were higher among women aged 65+ years, with up to 126% increase among Black aged 65-69 years. The percentage increase for White women of the same age was 75%. For White women, cervical cancer mortality rate was highest (96%) among women aged 75-79 years. Black women of similar age still exhibited a high increase of 122%.

In my opinion, I think it would be of great public health relevance to perform a similar kind of analysis in sub-Saharan region where cervical cancer mortality rates are underreported, yet very high.

For more information, visit the sources provide below.

Figure 1. Age-specific cervical cancer mortality rates, uncorrected and corrected for the prevalence of hysterectomy, in (A) white and (B) black women.
Figure 1. Age-specific cervical cancer mortality rates, uncorrected and corrected for the prevalence of hysterectomy, in (A) white and (B) black women.

Source link: Bruni et al. (2017) and Beavis et al. (2017).

Oncopig Model for Cancer Research

Oncopig  Cancer Model: A New Approach in Cancer Research for Humans

By Ramadhani Chambuso

Oncopig Cancer Model is a novel transgenic swine model that recapitulates human cancer through the development of site and cell specific tumors. For decades, cancer research progress has been markedly hampered by the lack of a phenotypically, genotypically, anatomically, and physiologically relevant large animal models.

On the other hand, small animal models, such as mouse models, have played a major role in our understanding of the genetic basis of cancer and the role of specific genes and gene mutations in the development and progression of cancer. However, due to vast differences between humans and rodents or zebrafish for example, the ability to model complex diseases such as cancer and translate results into clinical practice is quite limited

In a nutshell, large animal models of cancer comprise a smaller portion of cancer models than small animal cancer models. Therefore, these large animal models recapitulate transcriptional hallmarks of the human disease while also exhibiting clinically relevant histologic and genotypic tumor phenotypes.

Adopted from cancerresearch#Oncopig
Adopted from cancerresearch#Oncopig

Source link: Schachtschneider et al. (2017)

Breast Cancer Screening using Mammography

Breast Cancer Screening with Mammography in Women Aged 40-49 Years is Still Controversial

By Ramadhani Chambuso

The incidence and mortality rates from breast cancer are expected to rise as a result of the ageing population. To reduce the burden of this disease, many countries have implemented mammography screening for early detection and treatment of breast cancer for all women aged from 50 years for every 2 years. However, there is a debate about whether breast cancer screening should be extended to younger women (i.e., 40–49 years). Generally, for effective cancer screening programme, the benefits should outweigh the harms. Some negative effects of breast cancer screening include radiation exposure from mammography, pain during the mammography procedure, consequences of false positive and false negative tests, and the occurrence of over-diagnosis. Therefore, based on the current evidence from randomised trials, extending mammography screening to younger age groups cannot be recommended.

Adopted from
Adopted from

More information can be accessed from Mammography and Breast Cancer Screening.

Source link: van den Ende et al. (2017)

BIGOSA 2017 Annual Scientific Meeting

The Breast Interest Group of Southern Africa (BIGOSA) was formed in 2011 by a group of medical professionals who realised there was a need for standardisation in breast healthcare in Southern Africa. One way of delivering on our primary objective is to empower all practitioners with appropriate skills through training and scientific meetings where breast healthcare progress and problems of interest to all clinicians and non-clinicians are presented.


The BIGOSA 2017 Annual Scientific Meeting takes place at The River Club, Observatory, Cape Town on 21 October under the over arching theme “Young women and breast cancer”.

More information can be found HERE.


TEL: +27 (0)21 683 2934
FAX: +27 (0)21 683 0816

Gut Microbiome and Cancer Therapy

Gut Microbes May Help in Cancer Treatment

By Ramadhani Chambuso

Since the gut is the largest immunological organ in the body, research has found that certain anticancer drugs work better with prior or concomitant modulation of specific gut microbiome to optimize maximum therapeutic outcome in the treatment of skin and lung cancer in mice. However, this strong interrelationship between the immune system and the host gut microbiota which can determine responses to cancer therapies has not yet been demonstrated in humans, although efforts are made to have ethical clearance to conduct further clinical trials.

Adopted from, 2016
Adopted from, 2016

Source links: Vétizou et al. (2015) and  Reardon (2017)

UNESCO-MERCK Africa Research Summit 2017

image001 (1)


UNESCO Merck Africa Research Summit – MARS 2017 will be held in Mauritius with the aim to empower Women and Youth in Research under the patronage of the Head of State of The Republic of Mauritius H.E. Ameenah Gurib Fakim.UNESCO-Merck Africa Research Summit- MARS aims to bring together researchers from across Africa to discuss the generation, sharing and dissemination of research data and to prepare for the road ahead in Africa’s development as an international hub for research excellence and scientific innovation.UNESCO-Merck Africa Research Summit – MARS 2017 will have scientific support from UNESCO (United Nations educational, scientific and cultural organization), African Union Scientific, Technical and Research Commission (AU-STRC), the University of Cambridge, UK, University of Rome, and Merck.The annual Summit aims to contribute to building research capacity in the African research community, with special focus on “The Role of Scientific Research in responding to Cancer and Vaccines Development – Two emerging challenge in Africa”. The Summit will also showcase innovative research taking place in projects, programs and initiatives across African universities, and by the wider African research community. The summit is a unique opportunity for Africa’s young and talented scientists to share their research output and findings with the top echelon of scientists from Africa and abroad. It is also an opportunity for networking and career development. The Summit willpresents a platform where young scientists will be able to discuss the enabling environment for better research among others.On other note the organizing committee will launch the “Best Young African Researcher Award” and the “Best African Woman Researcher Award” to recognize the outstanding contribution of African female scientist with aim to promote women in research and advance their contribution to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

The annual Summit – UNESCO-MARS will address the vital role of research in the improvement and sustainable development of population health with specific emphasis on how to translate knowledge into action – the ‘know-do gap’ – to improve health and make an impact on society.

Read More
Abstract Submission Details

Abstracts are invited from final year African PhD students and young investigators involved in research related to both Cancer specially in Women and Vaccines Development. All should be primarily based at African research institutes and Universities, although collaboration within Africa as well as outside is encouraged.

All abstracts will be peer reviewed.


Dead line 30th of August 2017

Send your abstracts to:

Apply Now


MARS 2017 Awards


All abstracts will be peer reviewed and 100 winners will be eligible for Sponsorship. First three winners will be eligible for further number of Research Awards. Further Research Award will be dedicated for Best African Women Researchers Stay tuned..
Follow us on:

Facebook  Twitter 

Biostatistics Seminar Series

Special forum: Biostatistics support in the Faculty of Health Sciences

Join the Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics for a panel discussion on the need and future of biostatistics support in the Faculty of Health Sciences. Submissions are welcome – please email:

All are welcome to the seminar.

Where: Seminar Room 2, Falmouth Building, Entrance 5, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, Health Sciences Campus, UCT.

When: 12:30-13:30, Wednesday, August 23, 2017.

Cancer Network in Africa


AORTIC Cancer Network Directory (ACND) 2nd Edition

At AORTIC, we are currently developing the second edition of our Cancer Network Directory, which aims to map out the resources that are available in Africa in order to help understand the cancer landscape in Africa and promote collaboration in cancer work.

If you would like to be included in this directory, please provide us with your contact information by filling out the information card below.

We would also appreciate it if you could either forward along this information card or give us the contact information for anyone else who would benefit from being listed.

Thank you for your cooperation!

Information to be completed:

Information Card

Name/ Nom:
Name of institution/Nom de l’établissement:
Cancer specialty/focus area  /Spécialité/Domained’intervention: 
City/ Ville:
Country/ Pays:
Full address/ Adresse:
Email address/ Adresse e-mail :
Web address/ Adresse web :
Work tel no/Numéro de téléphone :
Mobile no/ Pas de portable :

It may be of interest to you that AORTIC is hosting its biannual conference this November in Kigali, Rwanda 7-10 November 2017.

The conference will be a great opportunity for multidisciplinary specialists from the global cancer community to present their research, learn about relevant case studies, gain practical skills through workshops, broaden their network connections, and much more.

If you are interested in attending, please check out our website for more information:


AORTIC Secretariat

P O Box 186

Rondebosch 7701 South Africa

Tel: +27 21 689-5359



Welcoming New Members

Postgraduate Cancer Research Initiative (CRI) Opens Door to New Postgraduates!

On behalf of Prof. Jennifer Moodley, we would like to extend a cheerful welcome to the new members who have joined the Postgraduate Cancer Research Initiative (CRI). As you are aware, this group was founded in 2015 as “Cancer PhD Mentorship Group” and was only for PhD students. This year, after much discussion, we extended the invitation and membership to MSc students doing cancer-related projects; hence, the name “Postgraduate Cancer Research Initiative”. Therefore, we are delighted to have all the new postgraduate members from different divisions and departments join our group.

Our main goal is to offer mentorship to postgraduate students, identifying and assisting them in their areas of need in academics and research. It also provides students with the opportunity to share exciting ideas in cancer research. This is not limited to policy implementation, translational research, and any opportunities in the discipline.

Thanks to all the old and new members who made a huge effort to participate in our first two meetings (7th and 27th July 2017 chaired by Prof. Jennifer Moodley and Dr. Ramadhani Chambuso, respectively). To those that were unable to attend, it is our pleasure to welcome you!

From left to right: Ramadhani, Trish, Alltallents, Harris, Ongeziwe, Precious, and Freury.
From left to right: Ramadhani, Trish, Alltallents, Harris, Ongeziwe, Precious, and Freury.

Refreshments session...

Photographs courtesy of Fleury A. N. Biteghe and Harris Onywera.