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UFS researcher explores the future cost of cancer
2017-01-10

 Description: 001 Dr Alicia Sherriff Tags: 001 Dr Alicia Sherriff

Dr Alicia Sherriff, Head the Department of Oncology
at the UFS Faculty of Health Sciences, co-authored
an article in the South African Medical Journal.

Photo: Charl Devenish

Cancer is on an exponential rise globally, and the cost of treatment is a growing international problem. South Africa alone is expected to see a 78% increase in cancer cases. Dr Alicia Sheriff, Head of the Department of Oncology, collaborated on and co-authored a research paper for the South African Medical Journal on the future of oncology treatment in the country, along with doctors from various universities across South Africa. The article, titled "The future cost of cancer: interdisciplinary cost management strategy", looks at the prognosis of cancer management in the country.

Cancer is on the rise

There is a visible growth of the cancer disease in the developing world. Rapidly changing lifestyles, uncontrolled urbanisation, pollution, and population ageing are some dynamics that provide a lethal cocktail of infectious and lifestyle risk factors that leave people at a higher risk of developing cancer.

The simultaneous increase in cancer incidence has increased the cost of treatment exponentially. The cost of cancer treatment is multitiered, making the provision of care for cancer patients a high-risk business. A combination of treatment delays, limited resources, differently skilled personnel, high patient volumes and advanced disease stage on presentation all place a bigger burden on the delivery of optimal cancer care outcomes.

Adoption of new strategies

According to the doctors, innovative thinking to embrace technology, combined with a preventive approach, as well as lowering the cost of treatment drugs should be prioritised. So should the commercialisation of new technologies that will diagnose and treat cancer in its early stages. They also encourage interdisciplinary research funding in South Africa as a way to better understand the demographic and molecular dynamics of cancer in the country, along with retaining more oncologists in the public health sector.

Efficient solutions to curb cancer mortality

The doctors assert there is a need to continue to look for more efficient measures to best treat the disease, and hopefully bring about a change in mortality levels in South Africa.

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