CMJAH Breast Clinic

Ronnie van der Merwe, an enrolled nurse, tells us about the running of Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital Breast Clinic.

Photo caption: Some of CMJAH’s ward 394 nursing staff.

About the breast clinic

The Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital (CMJAH) Breast Clinic is a surgical clinic, situated in area 348 at the hospital. The clinic provides a specialised breast service to various hospitals and primary healthcare clinics within the Gauteng province’s referral cluster. However, patients from other provinces and other African countries are also given medical attention.

At CMJAH Breast Clinic, it is believed that all women should have access to high-quality breast care, irrespective of their geographic location and socio-economic status. Many patients have experienced hurdles seeking assistance; some related to their socio-economic status whereas others are caused by barriers within the healthcare system

The breast clinic is open every Friday and assists over a hundred patients per day. The number of patients with newly diagnosed breast cancer is approximately three hundred per year. An average of six new patients are diagnosed each week1. These patients are diagnosed, staged and treated within the unit.


The vision of CMJAH Breast Clinic  is to always remain dedicated and to provide a service of excellence. It strives to promote onsite access, transition and coordination of multi-disciplinary services. The on-going improvement, in service, was recognised by the Hospital Service Excellence Awards it received in both 2015 and 2016.

Same-day diagnostic screening

Some patients, who access CMJAH Breast Clinic, would have gone for a consultation with their doctor after noticing warning signs during a breast self-examination. Other patients might have consulted their doctors or clinics because of a strong family history of the disease or late menopause. Lately, many people are also aware that alcohol abuse, poor diet and lack of exercise put them at a higher risk of breast cancer.

A same-day diagnostic screening was successfully implemented at CMJAH Breast Clinic with the assistance of the Mammogram Department. The state of the art services used, ensures patients who present to the clinic with a suspicious lesion will have a same-day mammogram, breast ultrasound, blood test, chest X-ray as well as a liver ultrasound.

Patients are always informed of surgical treatment options available to them and are actively involved in treatment decisions. Each patient’s individual requirements, needs and wishes are taken into consideration. Treatment is then tailored accordingly.

Management and team

Dr Sarah Nietz, a consultant surgeon, is the Head of Breast Surgery at CMJAH and in charge of the breast clinic. Dr Boithumelo Phakati, a breast consultant, joined the unit in 2015.

Ward 394 (orange block) is where the breast patients are nursed pre- and post-operatively, under the leadership of the Unit Manager, Sister Gladys Ngwane (oncology trained) and a dedicated team of nurses.

Some of the professional nurses, like Babongile Mlambo and Sonto Dludlu, are also oncology trained; this ensures that patients in the ward continue to receive the best care.

The medical and nursing personnel together form a formidable team that is second to none. CMJAH Breast Clinic has established a high-quality surgical breast service for the community served.

Other supportive services 

Plastic surgery (reconstructive services) and counselling by breast cancer support groups, such as Reach For Recovery, are also offered. Reach For Recovery also attend to the patients, in ward 394, post-operatively. Candice Kuschke, a physiotherapist specialist on treatment of lymphoedema, volunteers and supports the clinic.

CMJAH Breast Clinic

MEET OUR EXPERT – Ronnie Van der Merwe

Ronnie Van der Merwe is an enrolled nurse at CMJAH. He works in a surgical ward with breast cancer patients. He studied at Ann Latsky Nursing College. He also has a BA Languages from North-West University. He recently completed his studies in journalism.