2024 Gynae-Oncology Update Aims to Make Impact in Women’s Health

Scenes from the KwaZulu-Natal Gynae-Oncology Update.

2024 Gynae-Oncology Update Aims to Make Impact in Women’s Health

UKZN’s Discipline of Obstetrics and Gynaecology hosted the 2024 KwaZulu-Natal Gynae-Oncology Update giving healthcare professionals, researchers and clinicians from around the country the opportunity to address issues on women’s reproductive health, share advancements in medical practice and technology, and engage in discussions about clinical cases.

Attended by more than 120 delegates, the two-day forum, which was Continuing Professional Development (CPD) accredited, aimed to advance the field of gynae-oncology, and improve outcomes for women’s health by providing a range of presentations by expert clinicians that covered topics from the basics of gynae-cancer prevention such as human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations, cancer screening (cytology versus HPV and colposcopy), as well as clinical and surgical management of the various cancers. The comprehensive event also covered the impact of genetics, the psycho-sexual impact of gynaecological cancers, fertility issues following cancer, cardio-oncology, ethics and palliative care for patients with gynaecological cancers. The participants had an opportunity to engage in a hands-on workshop on colposcopy as well as thermal ablation, the latter being seen as the new kid on the block for the management of premalignant cervical lesions, as recommended by the World Health Organization.

In his welcome remarks, Dr Kamendran Govender who was the brainchild of the event and the lead collaborator of the KwaZulu-Natal Gynae-Onco Forum, said he was proud of the organising committee for planning the event. Govender said the Discipline of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at UKZN supported the initiative as part of the ‘continued medical education and the overall goal of maximising our efforts to bring women’s health to the forefront by preventing and treating cancers.’

Head of the Clinical Division at the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health, Dr Neil Moran shared the province’s strategy for cervical cancer prevention. Highlighting the global statistics of how a ‘woman dies from cervical cancer every two minutes,’ he said KwaZulu-Natal had transitioned from pap smear to HPV testing as a preventative method for cervical cancer screening. Moran noted how HPV tests had proven to be more reliable, thorough and cost-effective in the long run.

Head of the Discipline of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Professor Motshedisi Sebitloane reviewed the role of cervical ablation in KwaZulu-Natal, saying: ‘The roll-out of the thermal ablation will serve to triage women with low-grade premalignant lesions with the aim to destroy HPV as the causative agent, and prevent overtreatment with the large loop excision of the transformation zone (LLETZ), reserving the latter for the management of high-grade lesions.’

In his closing remarks, Gynae-Oncologist at Grey’s Hospital and Midlands Medical Centre Dr Bongumusa Makhathini said he regarded the event as a victory for women’s health. Thanking UKZN’s Discipline of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the sponsors and the organising team for their efforts, he acknowledged his colleagues for the amazing turnout and said: ‘What we are doing here is trying to raise awareness and refresh our minds about the burden of cancer in women’s health.

‘Being able to update each other on the latest information aimed at curing and treating cancer means we are pulling in the right direction as women can still have cancer and be referred and treated appropriately, improving and prolonging their quality of life,’ Makhathini added.

The Discipline of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at UKZN, together with the KwaZulu-Natal Gynae-Onco Forum thanked Astra-Zeneca, Baxter and Smith & Nephew for their generous sponsorship of the event.

Words: Hlengiwe Khwela

Photographs: Yola Ndzabe