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Counting the cost of breast cancer
Community Coordinator



According to CANSA, one in 28 South African women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.  

With advances in oncology care and the ability to detect breast cancer at an early stage, more women are surviving the critical illness, but the reality is that treatment comes at an exorbitant cost.


Research from the Global Burden of Disease shows that South Africa bears a heavy cancer burden with 115 000 South Africans that were diagnosed with cancer in 2017. While prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer seen in men, breast cancer is by far the most commonly diagnosed cancer in South African women across all races. 


The reality is that women and men alike is never too young or too healthy to take out cover. If you are unprotected, and your health situation changes, it becomes difficult or impossible to get the cover needed.


Felix Kagura, Head of Long-term insurance propositions at Standard Bank Group says “these statistics emphasise the importance of having adequate cover in place. If you have existing protection, it is critical to check your claim criteria to ensure that you are covered for breast cancer treatment.”


If you are without cover, or find that you are not covered adequately, take time to investigate insurance products that are designed to provide critical illness or cancer cover. “Some of these solutions offer certain benefits that extend beyond cost savings. Further to that, there is specialist cover available for critical illnesses like breast cancer. When taking out cover, it is of the utmost importance to provide information required in the application that is honest and accurate. “If what is disclosed is subject to dispute, a person who claims for treatment may be denied due to this oversight,” explains Kagura.


Unfortunately, however, access to screening is not widely available to the larger population. In a 2018 paper, the SA Journal of Radiology highlights that there is a desperate shortage of radiology services in the public sector and, as a result, most women do not have access to mammography screening. It is anticipated that with the introduction of a National Health Insurance, that this situation will change.


In the meantime, Standard Bank strongly advises South African women and men to consider medical cover that allows them to visit a doctor for regular check-ups.