Old statistics derailing treatment and control of cancer

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Cancer statistics nearly a decade old could derail control of the disease, with case numbers to almost double in the next 10 years. A [s]Cape Argus[/s] reports that [b]Stellenbosch University African Cancer Institute director Vikash Sewram[/b] says the most recent statistics on the cancer registry date back to 2006, leaving the health system woefully unprepared for the rapid growth of breast, cervical, prostate, liver and colorectal cancers. The situation is compounded by the under-resourced and understaffed [b]National Health Laboratories Service[/b], which is struggling to keep up with demand for cancer data. Sewram said up-to-date statistics were crucial to controlling the disease. But, [b]Dr Elvira Singh, acting head of the National Cancer Registry[/b], said their major problem of understaffing was exacerbated by the fact that TB and HIV/Aids were higher priorities. She was however confident that they could provide accurate estimates in the fight against cancer.

The Eastern Cape’s former Transkei region has one of the world’s highest rates of oesophageal cancer, sharing the unenviable title of ‘oesophageal cancer hotspot’ with regions in Iran and China, reports the [s]Daily Despatch[/s]. Cancer of the oesophagus is one of the ten most common cancers in South Africa. The cancer affects about three in every 100 000 women and is twice as common in men. The rate in the Eastern Cape is six times the national average.

New research shows that the processing of home-grown maize, a large part of the local diet, may be the culprit, says [b]African Cancer Institute’s Dr Vikash Sewram[/b], who presented on the topic at the recent [b]AORTIC International Cancer Conference[/b]. ‘Individuals that eat home grown maize showed a higher risk of oesophageal cancer. The risk dropped if they combined it with commercial maize, and people eating only commercial maize showed no risk.
Full Cape Argus report (Subscription needed)
Full Daily Despatch report

A garden-variety type of bacteria, which is normally present in the human intestinal tract, may be morphing into a tough-to-treat superbug. [s]Newa.Health[/s] reports that a new report from physicians in New York, New Mexico and the [b]US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)[/b] describes the cases of two patients with group B streptococcus infections that turned out to be resistant [b]vancomycin[/b], often considered an antibiotic of last resort. ‘Every time there is information about another genus, species or strain of bacteria showing resistance to yet another class of antibiotic, that’s bad news because it means that yet another antibiotic weapon is about to become useless,’ said [b]Elizabeth Scott, co-director for the Centre for Hygiene at Simmons College[/b] in Boston. Strep B bacteria are a leading cause of meningitis and bloodstream infections. About one in four pregnant women carries the bacteria, which can cause life-threatening infections in newborns. Strep B is also a common cause of joint and skin infections in the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.

Treatment guidelines increasingly recommend that certain antibiotics, particularly the macrolide azithromycin, no longer be used to treat many common infections, reports [s]Medscape[/s]. Inappropriate use has led to widespread antibiotic resistance and is contributing to the emergence of super bugs. At least one prominent emergency medicine expert suggests that the drug not be used at all.
Full News.Health report
CDC: Group B Strep Home
Full Medscape report


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