Cancer: A Silent Tragedy

In Africa, cancers of the cervix and breast are not just diseases, but tragedies. Tragedies played out in the theatres of silence in the informal settlements, squatter camps, peri-urban communities and rural villages, where women have no voice and where the prevailing belief is that cancer is a disease of shame, often associated with a fatalistic curse for having lived an immoral life, or some form of witchcraft.

Scope of the Challenge

  • By 2030 one million Africans will die each year from cancer


  • A significant majority will be women who die from cancers of the cervix and breast


  • Many will die without a diagnosis


  • Most will die without having had any form of conventional treatment, or access to pain medicine

Barriers to Cancer Care

In Africa, misconceptions and myths about cancer often lead to self-victimization and care-seeking only after symptoms become unbearable. When women finally do seek care they often find ill-equipped health facilities and healthcare professionals who lack the specialized training required to execute proper care. 

Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia and Malawi

In the countries in Africa where we work - Zambia, Malawi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo - breast and cervical cancer are major causes of cancer-related death. Although the underlying circumstances are formidable, evidence exists that they can be significantly changed if women are provided wide access to high quality cancer prevention, early detection and treatment services, within a culturally-appropriate context.