Research by the International Agency for Research on Cancer has revealed that of the over four thousand cases of breast cancer that will be diagnosed in Ghana this year, about a thousand of the patients are at risk of losing their lives.
This was made known by the Head of Breast Unit at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, Dr. Florence Dedey.
“Breast cancer is on the increase in Ghana. Less than three weeks ago on September 12, the International Agency for Research on cancer published the GLOBOCAN2018 estimates of worldwide incidence and mortality of cancer. They estimate that over 4600 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in Ghana this year and that more than 1,800 women will lose their lives to this cancer.”
According to her, late diagnosis, screening, and inadequate facilities are significant factors in the high number of deaths recorded from the disease.
“It is cancer that can be effectively treated if diagnosed early. Unfortunately, more than half of the women who are treated in Ghana receive their treatment when the disease is rather advanced. This negatively affects the outcomes that we see.”
“This trend on missing out on diagnosing and treating breast cancer early when it is most amenable to cure can be attributed to several factors including lack of knowledge about breast cancer, over-reliance on ineffective alternative therapies, inadequate facilities and lack of trained personnel and funds.”
Deadly as it may be, experts say early detection can help manage the situation.
“Once you notice some symptoms and it’s found that you have breast cancer, you will have to do a biopsy which will diagnose breast cancer. We have to do a certain lab test and prepare you for surgery. There are chemotherapy and radiotherapy. There is quite a lot that goes into it, but once you go through all this that is when the effective treatment comes in, and it can be cured.
“It’s difficult to give a figure or an amount. NHIA covers part of it, but it is not cheap to be treated for breast cancer.”
As the country commences activities to mark World Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Dr. Florence Dedey, called on government and stakeholders to intensify efforts to avert the potential health crisis.
“A lot is being done to ensure that breast cancer patients receive the best care in Ghana. But there is still some work that remains to be done. I would like to call on the Ghana Health Service and Ministry of Health to continue to put in and implement the right policies that will ensure effective treatment of breast cancer all across the country.”
The month of October has been set aside worldwide to raise the awareness of the disease, and the theme for this year is “early detection and effective treatment saves life.”
Activities lined up for the month include Social and News media campaigns to clear the myth of breast cancer, outreach programs, network and breast examination in hospitals and diagnostic facilities like Korle-bu, Ho Regional, Komfo Anokye, Legon, Lekma, 37 Military, Accra Regional hospitals as well as the Tamale and Tema general hospitals, among others.