Call for cancer register in polluted south Durban
This is one of the recommendations made in a study on cancer and pollutants in the area carried out by the UKZN’s Nkosana Jafta and the university’s College of Health Sciences.
Speaking this week at a community meeting hosted by the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) in Austerville, Jafta said the study revealed there was a high number of cancer cases in the area but researchers were unable to determine the severity of the finding without a cancer register.
“The research was done in areas south of Durban and those in the north, and we found that in the south, when compared to the north, there’s a high level of pollutants that are likely to cause cancer.” Jafta said residents in the south of Durban were 25 times more likely to develop cancer than residents in the north of Durban.
“Scientifically it’s hard to say how many people in south Durban have cancer and therefore one of the recommendations we made in the study is for a cancer register to be started in the south,” said Jafta.
The register would help identify cancer hot spots in the area, and determine if government assistance was required to address the problem.
“Normally one in 100000 people have cancer but when it’s 20 in a 100000, then that is regarded as a lot.
“The register will help gauge how big a problem cancer is in the area. And with the help of SDCEA, a register can be a possibility.”
Speaking on global and national research into cancer, Siyabonga Dlamini of the UKZN’s College of Health Sciences said the incidence of cancer was increasing globally, resulting in an increase in cancer-related deaths.
“Lung cancer was the leading cause of death in 2012. Over 20 million new cancer cases are estimated by the year 2025,” he said.
Dlamini said globally, cancer cases increased by 33% between 2005 and 2015, with breast cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer and prostate cancer the four prevalent types of the disease.
He said in 2014 it was found that prostate cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer and cervical cancer were prevalent in South Africa.
In 2015 it was found that 8515 people died from lung cancer, 5406 from cervical cancer, 5239 from esophageal cancer, 5180 from breast cancer, and 4638 from prostate cancer in South Africa.
With the South Basin nestled in an industrial area, and being directly impacted by industrial fires or emissions, people at the meeting called for the major companies in the area to invest in a 24-hour chronic cancer clinic to focus on early detection to prevent deaths, and assist those suffering from the disease.
Deacon Charles Parker of the Catholic Church in Austerville said through conducting burials he had noted an alarming increase in the number of people dying from cancer.
“People only find out they have cancer when they are in the fourth stage of the disease. I know someone who died two weeks after they were diagnosed,” he said.
He said in the past he had buried people with HIV at an alarming rate but deaths from cancer appeared to have become an even greater problem.
“We need a special clinic for cancer; maybe then people can find out at an early stage that they have cancer, and stand a chance of fighting it.
“I bury cancer patients every week.”