KZN Health unveils new cancer-fighting machines

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The KwaZulu-Natal Health Department has unveiled 15 new cervical cancer machines at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital, which they say would significantly reduce the waiting times of patients visiting the facility, says a Daily News report.

Dr Neil Morrell, an expert in cancer treatment, said that unlike many cancers, cancer of the cervix was preventable and the new Large Loop Excision of the Transformation Zone (LLETZ) machine would add another layer in the health department’s arsenal in fighting the disease.

The function of the LLETZ machine is to conduct a small surgical procedure on the woman’s cervix. Using electrical current, the LLETZ procedure removes that part of the cervix where the cells are becoming abnormal (dysplastic), which might otherwise develop into cancer.

These abnormal cells can be detected by a pap smear, which must be done regularly. An important feature of cancer of the cervix is that the disease has a long pre-cancer phase which lasts for several years. This provides an opportunity to detect it (by Pap smear) and then to treat it with the LLETZ procedure before it progresses to cancer.

The report says currently there are only 17 hospitals that are equipped with these machines in the province. Morrell said 15 more machines will be purchased in 2018/19 financial year.

Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo said that in years gone by women aged between 60 and 65 fell victim of cervical cancer. “Today we lose women as young as 30 to cervical cancer, hence the introduction of the Phila Ma project to save young women. By these machines we aim to do just that and these machines will be sent to all corners of the province so that this type of cancer is detected at an early stage,” Dhlomo is quoted in the report as saying.

He said cancer of the cervix doesn’t spread too fast but there would be a huge difference if it’s detected as early as possible. “We’re going to get rid of this type of cancer by the introduction of these machines, hence the plan to have them even in the rural parts of the province,” he said.

Daily News report

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