Discovery Life data has shown that cancer is the most common serious disease among South African women.
Second, after cancer, the claim data showed that nervous system and cardiovascular disease are the next most worrisome diseases in South African women.
“During the last reporting period for Discovery Life (2020), more than 54% of our women’s serious illness claims were cancer claims,” said Dr. Maritha van der Walt, Chief Medical Officer of Discovery Life.
“Claims for nervous system disorders such as stroke and multiple sclerosis totaled approximately 15% of claims for major illnesses in the 2020 period. Heart disease accounted for about 7% of our serious disease claims for women,” said Van der Walt.
A whopping 29% of disability claims made by women in 2020 were also due to cancer, followed by 19% due to nervous system disorders and 17% related to mental and behavioral problems, highlighting the need for interventions and proactive care in these countries underlined. areas.
“This is tragic because many of the risk factors of cancer and cardiovascular disease in women are preventable or manageable.
“We need to do more to advocate for healthy behavior, prevention and proactive screening,” added Van der Walt.
Early detection of cancer is critical
Despite several claims in 2020, cancer remained the leading cause of death among women.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, followed by colon, lung and ovarian cancer.
For the past two years, many people have been unable to undergo their regular screenings, including regular mammograms, Pap smears, and other tests.
“We want to encourage everyone to prioritize this now, as early detection is the single biggest factor in successfully treating and recovering from cancer,” said Van der Walt.
“Early-stage breast cancer generally has a very good prognosis,” she adds.
Breast cancer is responsible for 46% of women-related cancers.
The second leading cause of death among Life of Discovery female clients is cardiovascular disease, accounting for 18% of death claims. The third highest category of death claims for women is respiratory illness, followed by secondary infections, including those who died from Covid-19.
“Infections, including Covid-19, as the cause of death accounted for approximately 3% of Discovery Life deaths for women in 2019. In 2020, this increased to 10%, attributable to Covid-19.
“Current evidence suggests that women are also at a higher risk of suffering from Covid for a long time. This makes clear how important it is that everyone is vaccinated to prevent hospitalizations and deaths that are eminently preventable,” explains Van der Walt.
In 2020, infections were also the leading cause of Income Continuation Benefit (ICB) claims among women.
Cancer-related deaths can be prevented
While cancer is still the leading cause of death, early screening, medical technology and better treatment mean that mortality is on a declining trend and the percentage of death claims has fallen in recent years of reporting.
“We can see that the proportion of female cancer deaths has decreased significantly in the period 2018-2020 compared to the years between 2015 and 2017.
“This decrease equates to 16% fewer cancer-related deaths,” says Van der Walt.
compiled by Narissa Subramoney