Cancer care and the Family Practitioner Short Course | 25 July – 16 October 2022

Mar 23rd, 2022

Cancer care and the Family Practitioner | 25 July – 16 October 2022

Application deadline: 11 July 2022

This 12-week CPD-accredited short course is offered online by the Division of Family Medicine and Primary Care, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University. This course aims to equip, update and refresh the family practitioner for the critical role of coordinating the cancer patient’s journey, at primary care level, from early diagnosis through to advanced disease.

More information

Cancer Care Flyer July 2022 (003)

Colorectal cancer increase reflects socioeconomic inequalities across different population groups in South Africa

Mar 14th, 2022

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer and one of the leading causes of illness and death worldwide. In South Africa (SA), CRC is the second most common cancer among men and third most common cancer among women. Survival data for colorectal cancer in SA are limited, although a study among adults aged 15 to 99 years reported that the 5-year survival rate in SA was less than 20% for the period 2010-2014.

What is Colon Cancer?

Researchers at Stellenbosch University who published their findings in BMC Cancer showed that there are disparities in the incidence of CRC between population groups with a consistent and rapid increase among the South African black population group. This finding opens the door to the development of programs to reduce the risk of CRC in SA, including promoting healthier behaviours such as reducing alcohol intake, reducing tobacco smoking, and increasing physical activities.

Ms. Lactatia Motsuku, a PhD student under the supervision of Dr. Mazvita Muchengeti, within the Department of Global Health, South African Centre for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis (SACEMA) and Prof. Kathryn Chu, Centre for Global Surgery, Department of Global Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences all at Stellenbosch University, were collaborators on this national study to determine trends in CRC incidence and mortality between 2002 and 2014 in SA by sex and population groups. Of 33,232 incident CRC cases and 26,836 CRC deaths, 54% were men and 46% were women; however, among the reported deaths, 47% were men and 53% were women. Most cases are diagnosed at a late stage because the age of diagnosis (61 years) is close to the age at death (65 years).

There are disparities in CRC between countries based on the Human Development Index (HDI) which is a composite score of life expectancy, education and per capita income of countries. Countries with the highest CRC incidence have a high HDI. CRC deaths are higher in low-income countries due to lack of appropriate screening and early detection programmes, and poor access to cancer treatment. Although the HDI of SA has increased, there is still considerable socioeconomic inequality. Thus, there is a need to appropriately plan for interventions, prevention, and control of CRC in the era of epidemiologic and economic transition, the evaluation of CRC patterns across population groups, and sex are necessary.

The outcome of investigations into factors that are driving the increasing rates of CRC among the black population group will have implications for policy and practice. Universal health coverage, targeted screening, early detection, and high-quality cancer care provision will go a long way toward reducing inequalities, especially for previously disadvantaged population groups. This study underlines the importance of cancer surveillance and population-based cancer registration that will provide insights into the priority areas that should be targeted for cancer prevention and control in SA.


Motsuku L, Chen WC, Muchengeti MM, et al. Colorectal cancer incidence and mortality trends by sex and population group in South Africa: 2002–2014. BMC Cancer 2021; 21. DOI: 10.1186/s12885-021-07853-1

International HPV Awareness Day 4 March

Mar 2nd, 2022

International HPV Awareness Day on 4 March is a day to recognise the public health issue posed by human papillomavirus (HPV).

HPV are a common group of viruses that are sexually transmitted. High-risk HPVs are the underlying cause of cervical cancer, vaginal and vulvar cancers, head and neck cancers as well as cancers of the penis and anus.

In South Africa, cervical cancer ranks as the most common cancer among women between 15 and 44 years of age. Current estimates indicate that every year 10 702 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 5 870 die from the disease.

Many of those deaths could be prevented through access to vaccines and cervical screening programs.

Vaccination is offered to grade 5 girls only in all South African public (government) schools and special schools, 9-12 years of age. Screening by pap smears is important to detect the virus and cell changes that are precursors to cancer, and if caught in the early stages cervical cancer is highly treatable. South African women lack this knowledge of disease detection and prevention, and this leads to a high prevalence and late diagnosis of cervical cancer.

New ways of targeting these populations are needed and an innovative way to do this would be to link school-based HPV vaccination platforms with interventions to improve cervical cancer education and screening to adult female relatives.

Stellenbosch University’s Prof. Hennie Botha (Head: Clinical Department; Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology) collaborated on this national study that successfully combined cervical cancer screening for mothers with schoolgirl HPV vaccination implementation in South Africa.

The findings published in the International Journal of Gynecological Cancer showed that:

  • A vaccine acceptance rate of ~60% was reached in an opt-in program requiring parental signed informed consent.
  • The use of oral presentations almost doubled the number of mothers with knowledge about cervical cancer.
  • Cervical self-screening was accepted by 47% of previously unscreened mothers of vaccine recipients.

This study opens avenues towards linking HPV vaccination campaigns with health education and screening in one program, to effectively reach unscreened mothers.


Dreyer G, Botha MH, Snyman LC, et al. Combining cervical cancer screening for mothers with schoolgirl vaccination during human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine implementation in South Africa: results from the VACCS1 and VACCS2 trials. Int J Gynecol Cancer 2022; 0:1–7. DOI: 10.1136/ijgc-2021-003079

Close the care gap.

Feb 3rd, 2022

On this year’s World Cancer Day Prof Vikash Sewram, Director of the African Cancer Institute speaks on the Early Breakfast with Africa Melane show on Radio 702 on Closing the Care Gap, highlighting the inequities faced by cancer patients.


Listen to the interview here.

Cancer is a disease that affects everyone.

Feb 3rd, 2022

Mrs. Claudia Francis, Clinical Trials Coordinator based at the African Cancer Institute, handing over donations to Mrs. Desiree Herbert, founder of the NPO Hope to the Hopeless.


Stellenbosch University’s African Cancer Institute (ACI) took the tagline for World Cancer Day “closing the gap in cancer care” to heart when they celebrated the day with members of the Ravensmead community, sharing knowledge and showing support.

World Cancer Day, marked annually on 4 February, is an initiative of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and it is aimed at uniting initiatives for cancer, and raising awareness of this disease while calling on action from governments and individuals around the world. This year the focus of World Cancer Day is on “closing the gap in cancer care”, and aimed to work towards promoting equity among people in terms of the various stages of cancer treatment, from access to early detection services, diagnostics, treatment, and care.

With this goal in mind, the ACI’s Community Advisory Board (CAB), led by Mrs Lea Wynand, took part in a World Cancer Day event held in the Ravensmead Moravian Church in Cape Town. The event focused on improving knowledge and raising awareness of the value of early detection to help close the gap in cancer care.

The ACI established a CAB in 2018, which consists of members who reflect a diversity of cancer experiences and skills, and who have cultural insight into the communities participating in clinical trials. The CAB is a critical component of the ACI’s community engagement strategy, representing an essential link between the ACI, health facilities, and the community to extend the ACI’s reach beyond academia. There is a need for equity among people seeking to access early detection services, diagnostics, treatment, and care.

“Advocacy is a critical strategy of the ACI towards improving cancer control both nationally and across the African continent. By involving the CAB as stakeholders, the ACI can create awareness and programmes aimed at encouraging a healthy lifestyle which can help to reduce or prevent the risk of cancer,” says Dr Yuri Munsamy, ACI’s Scientific Officer.


Mrs. Lea Wynand, Chairperson of the African Cancer Institute Community Advisory Board shared the importance of early cancer diagnosis and gave an overview of the signs and symptoms of common cancers.

At the event, Wynand, who is a former nurse, told community members about the importance of early cancer diagnosis and gave an overview of the signs and symptoms of some common cancers. She motivated the attendees to advise others to seek help if they notice signs and symptoms of cancer.

Ms. Maureen Baadjies, a counselor from Ravensmead Day Hospital, spoke on the importance of having regular Pap smears and provided information on the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and the vaccination of young girls against HPV. She urged the audience to consult the health services that are available to them and to attend appointments as required.

Mrs. Cora Swano gave a broad overview of the services provided to cancer patients at the Reach for Recovery care point at Tygerberg Hospital, and she touched on the psychological effects that a mastectomy can have on women, and explained the importance of having a prosthesis fitted after mastectomy.

The event presented opportunities to network with other NPOs who all share common goals:  improving knowledge on cancer, equipping families of patients with relevant knowledge on how to care for the cancer patient at home, and making people aware of the resources that are available in our communities.

It was also announced that sponsorships of adult diapers for bedridden cancer patients were obtained and donated to the NPO, Hope to the Hopeless, which is a care centre for older people. Currently, the group is experiencing challenges in obtaining sponsorships, and, in particular, adult diapers are in high demand. To empower the NPO to raise funds, cupcakes were donated, and the community donated to the NPO by purchasing these.

The ACI is excited to continue sharing its collective progress with members of the public on how we are working towards closing the care gap in the months and years to come.


Biobank Webinar Series 2021 – 2022

Oct 19th, 2021

Biospecimens for Research: Fit for Purpose

This series of Biobank Webinars focuses on the collection and handling of biospecimens for research biobanking, including the informed consent process.

These webinars will share invaluable information about the types of biospecimens suitable for biobanking and advanced downstream molecular applications, the challenges of and reasons for cryopreservation, and pre-analytical factors and their influence on the quality of biospecimens. You will also learn about best practices for informed consent for biobanking and the regulatory role of research ethics committees in biobanking.

  • Registered for CPD points.
  • Registration is free, but you must register for each webinar by clicking the link in the flyer pertaining to each webinar.

Contact Details: Sonja Niemandt, 021 938 9602,

Preanalytical variables in biobanking | Thursday 24 February 2022.

Review the pre-analytics (SPREC) and Biospecimen reporting for improved study quality (BRISQ) with emphasis on low and middle-income


Fay Betsou PhD, Chief Scientific Officer, Integrated Biobank of Luxembourg (IBBL), Luxembourg Institute of Health, Dudelange, Luxembourg.


Introduction to biobanking ethics and regulatory issues – Best practices for informed consent for biobanking and the role of research ethics committees in regulating biobanks | Thursday 31 March 2022.

Organizing Committee:

  • Micheline Sanderson, PhD (Project Manager / Senior Lecturer: Division of Anatomical Pathology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, South Africa)
  • Johann Schneider, MD (Professor: Division of Anatomical Pathology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University and National Health Laboratory Service, Tygerberg Hospital, South Africa)
  • Sylvia Silver, DA (Professor: Microbiology, Immunology, and Tropical Medicine, George Washington University, Washington DC, USA)


What our MPhil Cancer Science students have to say

Jun 24th, 2021
Hear what these students’ experience of the MPhil Cancer Science Programme is like so far.



MPhil (Cancer Science)

Jun 7th, 2018

Want to be part of the next generation of cancer scientists mobilising the cancer-research agenda in Africa?

With the introduction of the MPhil (Cancer Science) degree under the auspices of the African Cancer Institute (ACI) within the Department of Global Health, Stellenbosch University (SU) became the first academic institution in Africa to offer a structured cancer-science programme of this nature.

Cancer ranks as one of the primary causes of death in over 60% of countries worldwide, according to estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2019. Within the next two decades, the burden of cancer incidence is expected to almost double to 28.4 million cases in 2040. These statistics point to a major epidemic that requires a coordinated response – one that effectively targets research gaps, and which also succeeds in establishing sustainable cancer research programmes.

While our understanding of cancer has increased significantly over the past few decades, cancer knowledge is still underrepresented in academic curriculums on the continent, says Prof Vikash Sewram, Director of the ACI.

The ACI was launched in 2013 to consolidate the university’s cancer and cancer-related research activities, with the goal of developing a critical mass of scientists, clinicians, postgraduate students, and fellows that will assist in mobilising the cancer-research agenda in Africa. The MPhil (Cancer Science) programme, launched in January 2017, was the next necessary step.


Profs Vikash Sewram (Director: ACI), Jimmy Volmink (Dean: FMHS) and Usuf Chikte (Head: Department of Global Health Sciences) with the first MPhil Cancer Science cohort in 2017. Lauren Philips (MPhil Programme Coordinator) is at the back.

The interdisciplinary programme, which offers postgraduate training to all cadres of health personnel, is being offered on a full-time basis over a minimum period of 18 months. Fourteen students are currently enrolled – ten from South Africa and four from other African countries and they represent a diversity of background educational experiences ranging from, clinicians with oncology expertise to registered nurses to those with a background in the basic sciences.

During the first academic year, the students are expected to attain the required insights into cancer biology and tumour physiology. Topics covered also include planning cancer research studies, selecting the correct research methods, understanding the role of infection in cancer risk in Africa, the importance of nutrition in cancer survivorship, the principles of cancer chemotherapy and the role of the environment on public health.

Students are also exposed to biostatistics for analysis of cancer data and expected to plan their research projects in the second semester of the first year. International students are encouraged to identify a research topic of relevance to their home country.


Cancer and Public Health Symposium

May 7th, 2018

The African Cancer Institute (ACI) at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS), Stellenbosch University (SU), has formed a partnership with the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) to focus on cancer research regarding public health, primary care, nursing, and rehabilitation sciences to build capacity for basic and advanced cancer care.  The partnership was launched on Thursday 30th June 2016 at a cancer research symposium at the FMHS with key experts addressing various aspects linked to vaccination against cervical cancer, rehabilitation of breast cancer survivors, smoking and cancer, nutrition in cancer management, funding opportunities for research and current research activities related to cancer.

Photo: The panel of speakers at the Cancer Research mini-symposium were (from left to right): Prof Vikash Sewram from the African Cancer Institute, Dr Delva Shamley from the University of Cape Town, Dr Melissa Wallace from CANSA, Prof Nico Gey van Pittius from the FMHS, Mrs Megan Pentz-Kluyts a Nutrition and Dietetics Consultant, Dr Nonhlanha Dlamini from the National Department of Health, Prof Glenda Grey from the South African Medical Research Council, Dr Yusuf Saloojee from the National Council Against Smoking, and Prof Usuf Chikte from the FMHS.

Cancer Institute, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences

Apr 7th, 2018

Prof J Volmink, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, signing the Memorandum of Understanding with Dr Zheng Zhongwei, the Vice President of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College.