WSU RESEARCH TEAM RAISES AWARENESS ON OESOPHAGEAL CANCER IN WILLOWVALEThe WSU Cancer Epidemiology Research Group (CERG) recently visited Willowvale to boost community health awareness and deliver quality healthcare services, with a particular focus on oesophageal cancer awareness and the utilisation of the ECAS App for screening purposes.

CERG members engaged with community members, educating them about cancer risks, prevention, and the importance of early detection.

CERG team leader, Professor Eugene Ndebia, said: “Our key messages focused on the importance of early detection and recognising the symptoms of oesophageal cancer, such as difficulty swallowing, chest pain, and weight loss. We also highlighted the major risk factors, including tobacco use, alcohol consumption, and certain dietary habits. Our campaign emphasised the benefits of using our app for regular medical check-ups and adopting healthier lifestyles, which were central themes of our campaign.”

The CERG is dedicated to fighting cancer through early detection, awareness, and prevention. Our mission is to conduct cutting-edge research in cancer epidemiology, focusing on early detection strategies that save lives.

Throughout the day, CERG members invited individuals to visit the stall for screening. A total of 48 patients were screened using the ECAS App.

“It is well known that the Eastern Cape has among the highest prevalence of oesophageal cancer in Africa, making it a critical area for focused intervention. This alarming statistic, combined with limited access to healthcare resources and awareness in rural regions, motivated CERG to prioritize oesophageal cancer awareness in Willowvale,” said Ndebia.

Ndebia added that their goal was to bring much-needed attention to this health issue, provide education on risk factors, symptoms, and the importance of early detection, and ultimately reduce the impact of this disease on the community.

“We engaged with the Willowvale community through the use of our oesophageal cancer screening App (ECAS); our research team developed this app and works by looking at the exposure to well-known oesophageal cancer risk factors such as smoking, alcohol, eating habits and others. When flagged as high risk by the app, you are advised to check further for confirmation,” said Ndebia

Ndebia concluded that they educated the community members by conducting interactive sessions where they could ask questions and share their experiences, making the campaign more relatable and impactful.

By Anita Roji

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