In a mass pap smear drive campaign at Durban's Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital on Saturday, the KwaZulu-Natal health department will attempt to smash the record of the number of pap smears performed in one day.
It's part of the "Phila Ma" campaign, whose objective is to create public awareness about deadly breast and cervical cancers — the two most common cancers among South African women, while promoting screening to ensure early detection and treatment of cancer.
The department wants to spread the message that both cervical and breast cancer are preventable and can be successfully treated if women present at health facilities regularly, and get screened so that interventions can be made early if cancer is found, it expressed in a statement.
One of the mechanisms used to test for cervical cancer is the pap smear, which is a simple screening for precancerous cells which could lead to cervical cancer if left untreated. Regular screening can greatly reduce a woman's risk of dying from cervical cancer.
The department also believes with the strengthening of early detection‚ there will be fewer cases of advanced cancer that will require chemotherapy‚ radiotherapy and surgery.
If successful, KZN Health will beat Fortis Hospital at Vashi, Mumbai, which screened over 751 women in an 8 hour marathon screening, setting a Guinness World Record for the highest number of cervical cancer screenings, in December 2012.