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Breast and Cervical Cancer: FREE App Facilitates Early Detection

The coronavirus has impacted cancer screening programmes, resulting in delayed diagnosis and marked increases in the numbers of avoidable cancer deaths.However, it is has also fast-tracked the adoption of telehealth worldwide, with access to healthcare available at the click of a button and ultimately increasing access to expert advice. One such tool is the MyCancerGuide app, locally-developed by Campaigning for Cancer and sponsored by Pfizer South Africa, to assist women in self-screening for breast and cervical cancer.

Lauren Pretorius, CEO at Campaigning for Cancer, a patient organization that focuses on advocacy and access to treatment for cancer patients, says that as we navigate the Fourth Industrial Revolution, communities should be able to access the necessary tools to help them easily and affordably manage their health. “We chose a web-based app solution, as 20 to 22 million people in South Africa use a smartphone, about one-third of the country’s population.

Campaigning for Cancer in collaboration with Bara City Taxi Association, Baragwanath Hospital Batho Pele Cancer Unit (Chris Hani), Pink Drive and other medical NGOs have formed a partnership to commemorate South Africa’s contribution to World Cancer Day activities. World Cancer Day is on 4 February 2022; however, the activation will take place on Thursday, 3 February 2022.  On this day, Campaigning for cancer will launch the MyCancerGuide app.

World Cancer Day is the one initiative under which the entire world can unite in the fight against the global cancer epidemic. World Cancer Day which, takes place annually on 4 February, aims to save millions of preventable deaths each year by raising awareness and education about cancer and pressing governments and individuals across the world to act against it.

Why does MyCancerGuide initially focus on breast and cervical cancer? Pretorius points out that these are two of the top five cancers that affect women in South Africa. According to the most recent National Cancer Registry, 9 624 women were diagnosed with breast cancer in South Africa in 2017, accounting for 23.11% of all cancers in women in the country; so local women have a 1 in 25-lifetime risk of getting breast cancer.

 The Registry also reveals that cervical cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in all South African women, with 6 600 women diagnosed in 2017 and a lifetime risk of 1 in 40. Breast cancer is a high-profile disease and is the most prominent cancer impacting South African women,” says Pretorius, “but in coming months we will be adding self-examination options for a range of cancer types. ”

Campaigning for Cancer’s mission is to ensure that South Africans are informed and educated about cancer and their rights as patients. Pretorius says that it is important for this to begin even before a diagnosis. “Access to healthcare is a fundamental human right; however, with these rights comes a responsibility to look after our health, because being diagnosed early may save your life. We hope the MyCancerGuide app will empower women with a guide to completing their monthly breast self-examination and cervical self-observation step by step. It’s for each one of you,” she explains. 

Pretorius adds that the early detection of breast and cervical cancer can yield five-year survival rates of 99%8 and 92%9 respectively. “To assist users and improve early detection, the app provides push notifications to remind them to conduct a monthly breast self-examination and assess their risks or symptoms of breast and/or cervical cancer, with both spoken and written instructions in, which will eventually be available in seven South African languages.”

After conducting the step-by-step self-examination/observation, the user will be asked to complete a questionnaire assessing the outcomes. Depending on the results, the app will then either share information to educate the user on how to change and improve their health behavior or refer them to the relevant health service.

Pfizer South Africa Medical Director Dr. Bha Ndungane-Tlakula, says that the company is proud to sponsor MyCancerGuide. “Campaigning for Cancer aligns with our objective to address the burden of disease, supporting the value of patient outcomes through early detection and diagnosis.”

“We see this as the first step for each woman in her community to become a warrior in the fight against cancer. Start tracking your self-examination today. Sign up to the app. It’s Free and it’s for you,” says Pretorius. 

South Africans can sign up to the MyCancerGuide app by going to http://www.mcgscreening.co.za/ or by scanning this QR code:

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MYCANCERGUIDE OVERVIEW – My Cancer Guide is a mobile app that guides women in completing their monthly, ‘step-by-step’ breast self-examination and cervical self-observation.

You may ask why this App is different and what makes it exciting?

  • The app caters to both spoken and written instructions. Using the help of an avatar, the App guides users on the steps for breast self-examination and cervical cancer observation.
  • You get to select languages you are comfortable with, and if you have any questions, you can chat with a health navigator over WhatsApp.
  • The app also sends you a monthly reminder to do your breast and cervical self-examinations.
  • It has an in-built assessment survey to help you assess your risk and change lifestyle and health habits to reduce these risks.
  • The most important feature of the MY CANCER GUIDE APP is that every self-examination you complete is consolidated into a report which can be downloaded and shared with your doctor or clinic nurse. Because being diagnosed early will save your life.
  • It also puts credible cancer education materials a button shares away. You can become a credible health information advocate by sharing the signs and symptoms of different cancers with your family and community or even on social media.

Why have we created it?

It’s hard to know which cancer information is important or credible because there is so much information, and it becomes overwhelming. When you need to do a self-examination, you don’t always remember all the steps.

How have we solved that?

The app is created to empower women so they can take charge of their health; # MyCancerGuide assists you to identify your signs, symptoms, and how to do the self-examination.

Share the word

Join our community today, become a credible health information advocate by sharing the app with your family, friends, and communities. Early detection saves lives.

ABOUT CAMPAIGNING FOR CANCER:

Campaigning for Cancer is a patient advocacy organization that was formed in 2008 to give South African patients and those affected by cancer a voice. Campaigning for Cancer strives for a South Africa where people affected by cancer receive fair, appropriate, timeous, and respectful treatment and care by lobbying for the promotion and protection of the rights of patients and those affected by cancer concerning policy, healthcare costs, and healthcare delivery. This is done on an individual level – changing one life at a time – by providing people with the knowledge and tools to see their treatment process through; as well as on a larger scale – by noting issues highlighted by these individual cases and lobbying for a policy change that will affect all of society. For more information, please visit our social media @campaign4cancer or website: http://campaign4cancer.co.za/

About Pfizer: Breakthroughs That Change Patients’ Lives 
At Pfizer, we apply science and our global resources to bring therapies to people that extend and significantly improve their lives. We strive to set the standard for quality, safety, and value in the discovery, development, and manufacture of health care products, including innovative medicines and vaccines. Every day, Pfizer colleagues work across developed and emerging markets to advance wellness, prevention, treatments, and cures that challenge the most feared diseases of our time. Consistent with our responsibility as one of the world’s premier innovative biopharmaceutical companies, we collaborate with health care providers, governments, and local communities to support and expand access to reliable, affordable health care around the world. For more than 150 years, we have worked to make a difference for all who rely on us. For more information visit our website www.pfizer.co.za

BACKGROUND OF WORLD CANCER DAY, AND UICC

World Cancer Day was established by the Paris Charter adopted at the World Summit against Cancer for the New Millennium in Paris on 4 February 2000.This Charter aimed at the promotion of the research for curing as well as preventing the disease, upgrading the provided services to the patients, the sensitization of the common opinion and the mobilization of the global community against cancer. In its article 10, the Charter established that 4 February would therefore be World Cancer Day, so that the Charter of Paris would remain in the hearts and minds of people around the world. Since cancer knows no boundaries, and individual countries cannot address the challenges of cancer in isolation, a new cooperative approach to research, advocacy, prevention, and treatment must be established “On World Cancer Day, we have an opportunity to collectively examine cancer control strategies to identify winning formulas that will accelerate progress. The goal for all of us is to ensure fewer people develop cancer, more people are successfully treated and that there is a better quality of life for people during treatment and beyond.” Heather Bryant, VP, Cancer Control, Canadian Partnership against Cancer”.

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