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About one in every four South Africans gets cancer during his or her lifetime. More than 80 000 die from cancer every year says the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA).

But the good news is that if cancer is found early, it can be beaten. Today, chances of surviving cancer are higher than they were 30 years ago.

What is cancer?

Our bodies are made up of many different cells. Cancer begins when some of the cells start to swell or grow out of control in a certain part of the body.

If you notice any of the warning signs of cancer, you must go to your clinic or hospital immediately..

What are the signs?

There are many different types of cancer and some of them do not have clear warning signs. The most common signs are:

  • unusual bleeding or discharge (oozing)

  • a lump or thickening in the breast, neck, armpit, or anywhere else in the body

  • a sore that does not get better

  • constant coughing or changing of voice

  • constant indigestion and difficulty in swallowing

  • sudden, unusual weight loss.

Can cancer be prevented?

Research shows that up to 40 per cent of cancers can be prevented by having a healthy lifestyle, like:

  • not smoking and cutting down on alcohol;

  • eating balanced meals in-cluding lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.

  • eating unrefined starch like brown rice and whole-wheat bread rather than white bread and cakes.

  • eating less sugar and salt

  • eating less animal fats like in meat and milk products

  • using canola oil instead of sunflower oil

  • drinking plenty of clean water

  • exercising regularly and not being overweight

  • protecting yourself from the sun

  • regular medical check-ups;

  • testing the womb for cancer by having a regular pap smear

  • checking breasts regularly for lumps.

Most common types of cancer

The most common types of cancer are breast cancer and cervical cancer (women), prostate cancer (men), lung cancer, liver cancer and skin cancer.

- Ndivhuwo Khangale