Miss Noluthando Patricia Mbeje recently completed her MMedSci degree.

UKZN Student aims to Improve Hospital-Based Cancer Surveillance System

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Multinational Lung Cancer Control Programme (MLCCP) cancer Registrar in the Discipline of Public Health Medicine, Miss Noluthando Patricia Mbeje’s PhD research focuses on improving the hospital-based cancer surveillance system in KwaZulu-Natal, particularly the completeness and accuracy of cancer surveillance data in hospitals.

She recently completed her MMedSci under the supervision of Drs Nkosana Jafta and Themba Ginindza.

Her study titled: The Burden of Lung Cancer and Associated Risk Factors in KwaZulu-Natal aimed to determine the incidence of all types of cancer in public hospitals in Durban and Pietermaritzburg including the associated risk factors of lung cancer.

This was achieved by establishing a cancer surveillance system in three public health facilities in the two cities.

‘Hospital-based cancer surveillance was successfully established in the three health facilities that have oncology departments in KwaZulu-Natal,’ said Mbeje.

She added that the highest number of newly diagnosed cancer cases in 2018 was at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital (65.3%), followed by Greys Hospital with 30.8% and Addington Hospital with the lowest at 3.94%. The most commonly diagnosed cancers for all three facilities combined were breast, cervix, Kaposi sarcoma, lymph nodes, lungs, oesophagus, colon, prostate, endometrium and vulva. The age standardised ratio for all cancers diagnosed in 2018 was 20.2 per 100 000 persons in KwaZulu-Natal.

‘The lung cancer risk factors component of the study which was a case control study found that tobacco smoking and passive smoke exposure are major causes of lung cancer,’ said Mbeje.

‘Increased exposure to occupational and environmental carcinogenic substances also increases the risk of developing lung cancer. Alcohol consumption, and a history of lung disease are also important risk factors.’

This surveillance provided essential information about the incidence of cancer in the public health facilities in KwaZulu-Natal and can contribute to strengthening the national cancer registry legislation.

‘The findings of the risk factor sub-study will inform policy development and the planning of prevention strategies incorporating smoking legislation, and occupational health and safety,’ said Mbeje.

Words: Nombuso Dlamini

Photograph: Supplied