New liver cancer treatment aims to save more lives...

So far, only 50 patients have used this new treatment in South Africa due to a lack of funding.


JOHANNESBURG - A liver cancer treatment is aiming to save more lives and increase life expectancy.

Inventors of the treatment say they are hoping government will approach them so that more cancer patients can be reached.

Sunday marked International Cancer Survivors Day.

Nigel Langa, CEO of the company in charge of the treatment, which is called Selective Internal Radiation Therapy (Sirt)), says doctors send a high volume of radiation directly into the liver during a once-off procedure, which leaves cancer patients with less side effects.

"They were getting five to 10 times of that radiation and it's contained within the patient's liver. The product is very safe because it doesn't travel very far."

So far, only 50 patients have used this new treatment in South Africa due to a lack of funding.

Doctor Gareth Bydawell has treated over 30 patients using Sirt.

"Many patients get fantastic responses from this treatment and some patients who previously could not have this treatment can have this treatment [now].

Experts expect this treatment to become more popular among South Africans over the next year, which could give new hope to cancer patients who have exhausted all other treatment options.


The Cancer Association of South Africa (Cansa) says while the number of cancer patients is increasing, it's still trying to fight the wide range of stigmas around the deadly disease.

In some instances, patients have been told by doctors that they will never be able to fall pregnant or will have to terminate a pregnancy.

Cansa professor Michael Herbst says the NGO is currently working in a rural area, which cannot be disclosed yet, where children have stoned their neighbourhood friends because they have cancer.

"Their parents will tell them, 'Don't get near those kids they're bewitched.'"

Some people still view cancer as a "death sentence" including Millicent Mulelu, who was told by her doctor that she would never be able to have children after having cancer.

"[The doctor said] we need to consider having an abortion."

Her daughter is now eight years old.

Fatima Sherazi says after a long-struggle to fall pregnant, she found out she was expecting in 2013, but she was diagnosed with cancer two months later.

"When I took my first chemo, I felt that there was no movement but the following day it started kicking and I was so happy."

Sherazi says she has been clear for almost two years and her two-year-old son is healthy.