PinkDrive's mobile units will also be dispatched and trained medical staff will provide mammograms, pap smears, PSA blood tests, lung screening, ultrasounds and other screenings. 

Cancer is a leading cause of death globally, bringing pain and sorrow wherever it strikes. AstraZeneca says in 2020 alone, cancer accounted for 10 million deaths. Given that numerous types of cancer are avoidable and many can be identified early, cancer is a public health problem of the utmost importance. 

Many cancers also require substantial time to develop, so it stands to reason that one of the best ways to significantly reduce the incidence and mortality of the disease is through preventative measures and screening. A cancer prevented is better than a cancer cured, says AstraZeneca. 

Khomotso Mashilane, medical director of African Cluster at AstraZeneca, says, "The fact that the past 30 years saw a doubling in cancer incidence, three in sub-Saharan Africa, with cancer deaths in the region expected to rise to one million per year by 2030, further highlights the need to unite in the fight against cancer."

"Public-private partnerships that advance the roll-out of screening initiatives are paramount in stopping cancer's unabated rise on the continent," Mashilane adds. 

Adding to this, Mashilane says that people often overlook the gift of good health, assuming it will always be there. However, embracing preventive measures is a potent way to safeguard this invaluable asset.

"Many societies tend to react rather than be proactive, but the heartache of losing a loved one to a potentially preventable illness should serve as a poignant reminder of the significance of regular screening and disease symptom recognition," says Mashilane.

"South Africans need to prioritise proactive health measures for a better tomorrow, but limited awareness about cancer and high levels of stigma often prevent this from happening. This and inadequate access to screening results in late diagnosis with too many cases being well advanced by the time they are diagnosed," Mashilane adds. 

"While the efficacy of cancer treatments is increasingly impressive, they often come into play when it's already too late. Cancer is more likely to respond to effective treatment when identified early, resulting in a greater probability of surviving and less expensive treatment," says Mashilane.

"As a biopharmaceutical that's invested in developing life-changing cancer treatments, we are gratified to have partnered with PinkDrive to help increase screening opportunities for patients in the public health sector," Mashilane adds. 

Commenting on AstraZeneca's donation, PinkDrive CEO and founder Noelene Kotschan says, "Reach and presence are the cornerstones of successful cancer screening in South Africa. Mobility means all citizens can be reached and screened through visits to far-flung areas at key venues."

Kotschan says, "The concept of mobile units is a revolutionary mechanism. It's a form of accessibility and convenience, and it provides an approachable and timely real-life experience. It's an innovative concept containing state-of-the-art equipment, bringing first-world screening to previously unreachable citizens of South Africa."

"We are so grateful to be partnering with AstraZeneca. With these funds, PinkDrive can support public health facilities by bringing critical cancer screening to communities with little or no access to these services," adds Kotschan. 

According to AstraZeneca, local data from Stats SA indicates that in South Africa in 2018, females accounted for 51.3% of cancers diagnosed in South Africa, while males accounted for 48.6%. The average age at diagnosis was 59 for females and 64 for males.

However, the average age at death due to cancer was 62 for females and 64 for males, suggesting that cancer in males may be diagnosed at more advanced stages than in females.

The highest number of cancers diagnosed among males included:
  • prostate
  • colorectal
  • lung, and
  • non-melanoma skin cancers.

Among females, the most prevalent cancers included:
  • breast
  • cervical
  • colorectal, and
  • non-melanoma skin cancers.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the increasing adoption of behaviours such as smoking, the harmful use of alcohol, inadequate intake of fibre, fruit and vegetables and lack of physical exercise are major contributing factors to the increased risk of cancer.

"Obesity is a well-established risk factor for multiple cancers and healthy eating and regular exercise are an important part of prevention. A comprehensive public awareness effort highlighting these facts, plus the importance of regular screening, could lead to a tangible decrease in the occurrence of cancer. We are confident that PinkDrive is well equipped to distil these and other educational messages at a grassroots level," concludes Mashilane.

To learn more about PinkDrive screening initiatives, individuals are encouraged to click here.   

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*Image courtesy of contributor