Increase in cancer cases among members

The Scheme has seen a marked increase in the number of registrations with the Oncology Management Programme. We therefore urge members to go for the cancer screening tests covered in terms of our Wellness Benefits.

The highest incidence of cancer amongst Fund members is breast cancer (around 70 cases in July 2018), with prostate cancer not far behind (65 cases in July 2018). It therefore makes good sense for especially members over the age of 40 to go for an annual mammogram (for women), or a Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test (for men).

More about a PSA test

The PSA test is a simple blood test, so there is no reason for men to feel uncomfortable going for this test!

More about mammograms

The Scheme covers one mammogram per female beneficiary per year from Health Screening Benefits, and it is advisable to have this done from age 40 onwards.

A mammogram is basically an X-ray test of the breasts to detect problems, such as a lump. Small tumours can be seen on a mammogram far more easily before they can be felt by a woman or her health professional.

On the day of your mammogram, do not use any deodorant, perfume, powders or ointments on your breasts. The residue left on your skin by these substances may interfere with the X-rays.

If you are still having menstrual periods, you may want to have your mammogram done within two weeks after your menstrual period ends. The procedure will be more comfortable, especially if your breasts become tender during this time.

Where can I have a mammogram done, and what else should I know about my medical scheme cover for a mammogram?

  • In most cases a radiologist will perform a mammogram. If you are uncertain whether your radiologist performs mammograms, first call to find out.
  • The following tariff codes and Medical Scheme Rate amounts apply to mammograms covered from the Health Screening Benefits:
Service provider Code to be used on your account 2018 Medical Scheme Rate amounts
GP or gynaecologist 3605 R630.30
Radiologist 34100
34101
34300
R1379.00
R1103.30
R177.00

 

But there is more that you can do to pick up irregularities: self-examinations

MEN

It is a good idea to do monthly self-examinations of your testicles. This holds especially true if you have undescended testes, a previous history of a testicular tumour, a brother or father with testicular tumours or if you are infertile. Look out for a painless lump or swelling of the testis, or a dull ache or heaviness.

WOMEN

In the case of screening for breast cancer, it is also advisable to do regular self-examinations. While breast cancer statistics for women in South Africa are rather alarming, the good news is that breast cancer CAN be treated, especially if it is detected early enough. With October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, this is a good time to think about what you and the Scheme can do to detect any problems of this nature as early as possible…

Starting at around the age of 20, you should examine your breasts every month so that you can become familiar with their structure. This will enable you to detect any changes, such as lumps, that might indicate breast cancer. It is best to do breast self-examination about a week after your period ends. The following is only a summary of the technique, and you may want to watch a detailed video on doing your breast self-examination on the internet, such as this one. (The Nedbank firewall will prohibit viewing of this video on your work PC. If you want to access the link, please do so via your smartphone.)

  1. Stand in front of a mirror and check the appearance of each breast for anything unusual. Check the skin for puckering, dimpling, or scaliness.
  2. To check for changes in breast shape or contour, watch yourself in the mirror while clasping your hands behind your head and pressing your arms forward. Then place your hands on your hips and bend towards the mirror as you pull your shoulders and elbows forward.
  3. Squeeze each nipple gently and check for discharge.
  4. Raise one arm and put it behind your head. Use the sensitive pads of the middle three fingers of your other hand to check the breast and the surrounding area thoroughly by feeling for any unusual mass under the skin. Repeat this procedure for the other breast. (This can easily be done in the shower.)

    Check the entire breast area in the same way each time you perform a breast self-examination.

  5. Repeat step 4 while lying down. Lie flat on your back, with your right arm behind your head and a pillow or folded towel under the right shoulder. This position flattens the breast and makes it easier to check.

If you find any lumps, thickenings or changes, tell your doctor immediately.