GHS moves to prevent breast cancer

Participants at the breast cancer awareness forum.Photo.Daniel Amoo

Participants at the breast cancer awareness forum.Photo.Daniel Amoo

The Ghana Health Service (GHS) is to review the national strategy for the control and prevention of non-communicable diseases, to include breast cancer treatment.

This follows the increase of breast cancer infections and deaths among most middle aged women in Ghana.

Recently, a report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer estimated that more than 4600 new cases of breast cancer would be diagnosed in Ghana this year, while an estimated 1,800 women would die due to breast cancer.

Dr  Badu Sarkodie, Director of Public Health at the GHS, said the strategy when reviewed would be firmly rooted in the primary health care system, and all levels of healthcare delivery at the regional, district and teaching hospitals.

He made these remarks in Accra on Monday when he launched this year’s breast cancer awareness month, to educate the public on breast cancer, and encourage more women to have their breast screened regularly for early detection of breast cancer.

Dr Sarkodie urged all stakeholders contributing to the reviewing process to works toward sustaining national efforts at improving breast care in Ghana.

“We need to make available more health education materials both print and electronic, to augment and fast track  efforts aimed at reducing the high incidence and death toll associated with breast cancer in Ghana,” he said.

Dr  Sarkodie noted that breast cancer continued to be a major public health problem in Ghana, Africa and the entire global community, as it contributes to about 25 per cent of all new cancer cases diagnosed worldwide.

Further reports, has according to him indicated that breast cancers were typically presented late at treatment centres, resulting in significantly larger tumours in advanced stages that were difficult to treat.

Dr Florence Dedey, Head of the Breast Unit at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH), said early detection and effective treatment of breast cancer was the surest way to save more lives.

She observed that more than half of women with breast cancer received treatment only when the disease was at the advanced stage.

This Dr Dedey said could be attributed to  lack of knowledge on breast cancer, over reliance on ineffective  alternative therapies, inadequate facilities, as well as lack of trained persons and funds.

She said 23 hospitals and diagnostic centres across the country would this month offer free breast screening and treatment to the public, to mark the month long awareness programme,

Activities to mark the event include heath walk, talk shows, breast examination and screening to women group, market outreach and daily walk and screening at the KTHB department of surgery.

Breast cancer forms in the cells of the breast, and signs include lump, hard knot, and swelling, redness, darkening or thickening of the breast.

Other symptoms of breast cancer are changes in the size or shape of the breast, itchy, scaly or rash on the nipple and when there is nipple discharge.

It could also be prevented or controlled through regular exercises to maintain a healthy weight, limiting menopause hormone therapy and self breast examination among others.

By Linda Naa Deide Aryeetey and Lucy Abeduwaa Appiah

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