Photo Credit: Supplied

Dr Carrie Anne Minnaar has unlocked a key finding in cervical cancer treatment that is set to change how it is treated in South Africa.


Johannesburg, South Africa (27 February 2024) – Breakthrough research in cervical cancer could bring hope to millions of women thanks to the work of a South African doctor, Dr Carrie Anne Minnaar, and her colleagues from the Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre University.

Cervical cancer remains a significant health concern, particularly in low-to-middle-income countries, where morbidity and mortality rates are disproportionately high. Despite advancements in prevention and treatment, the burden persists.

Dr Minnaar specialises in hyperthermic oncology and is well-recognised for her ongoing clinical trials in this field. She holds a PhD in Radiation Sciences from Wits University. Apart from heading her own private hyperthermic practice at the Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre, Oncology Department in South Africa, she is an honorary lecturer at the Department of Radiation Sciences at Wits University.

The Science of Hyperthermia

Using a type of heating technology (modulated electro-hyperthermia or mEHT) as a support to chemoradiotherapy (CRT) for locally advanced cervical cancer (LACC), the research has proven it to be a cost-saving, successful way to treat patients.

“Modulated electro-hyperthermia is selective, mild, and affordable – and for the first time ever, hyperthermia has now been researched in South Africa,” says Dr Minnaar. “Our studies found that it can cost-effectively improve quality of life for patients and increase their chances of achieving a five-year disease-free-survival status.”

Hyperthermia in oncology, the process of heating up a tumour to sensitise it to radiation or chemotherapy, has been around for decades. However, it hasn’t gained traction in low-to-middle-income countries, largely due to the costs and complexity of the treatments.

Together with her colleagues, Dr Minnaar’s research, conducted over the course of a nine-year trial (2014-2023) is the first of its kind:

  • the first trial on hyperthermia ever to be investigated in a low-to-middle-income-country and to include a cost-effectiveness analysis,
  • the first hyperthermia trial to include HIV-positive participants,
  • and the first phase III randomised controlled trial on this groundbreaking hyperthermia technique.

“The findings extend beyond statistical success; they offer a potential paradigm shift in the way we approach cervical cancer treatment,” says Minnaar.

The European Society for Therapeutic Radiation and Oncology (ESTRO) has already recognised Dr Minnaar’s work, and in 2021, Dr Minnaar won the ctRO Young Investigator award for the results presented in their cervical cancer study.

As South Africa and other developing countries grapple with improving outcomes for LACC patients, Dr. Minnaar’s work stands out.

Her commitment to advancing the field of hyperthermia and bringing hyperthermia to South Africa, proving its feasibility and affordability, extends to other cancer types as well and is helping to pave the way for the use of this treatment in other resource-constrained countries which are in desperate need of effective but affordable treatments for cancer.

Her findings will be announced at the world-leading ESTRO radiation oncology conference in Glasgow from 3-7 May 2024.

Sources: Supplied
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Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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