Breast cancer patients can live full span after treatment – Doctor

Breast cancer patients could live their full span after treatment, a Consultant Radiation Oncologist, Dr Baffour Awuah, has stated.

According to him, misconceptions that severing the cancerous breast among other proven treatments increased one’s risk of death were untrue as more patients now lived longer and productive lives.

Speaking in an interview with the Ghanaian Timesto mark this year’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Dr Awuah advised victims of the disease to “choose life and quality health” over their fears.

“Previously, people were not living long but now, because of advancement in treatment processes, the survival rate is quite high. Patients could live over 10 years to 20 years without complications.

In fact, among the non-communicable diseases (NCDs), breast cancer is one that if managed well, patients could live productively without staying on drugs after discharge unlike other conditions like hypertension and diabetes where you take medications for life,” he said.

Dr Awuah insisted however on the need for early detection which was the lifeline to saving breast cancer patients.

“Late reporting remains a major drawback in the fight against breast cancer in Ghana. What we are saying is that people must make it routine to check their breasts. For instance,  women in their reproductive age, could self-examine their breasts after every menstrual cycle and immediately report at the slightest suspicion,” he advised.

Dr Awuah who is also the Chief Programme Officer at the Medical and Dental Unit of the Ministry of Health (MOH) asked that members of the public generally adopt health lifestyles and a habit of regular check-ups easily pick up NCDs for prompt treatment.

He said the MOH as part of building a healthier society in the face of rising NCDs in the country would soon establish wellness centres at vantage points to enhance screening of diseases and prompt care.

“Every human being must see yourself as a car and from time to time, go for servicing like you would a car, because that is the surest way to be certain that you are staying healthy,” he advised.

Touching on other issues of decentralizing breast care, use of unorthodox care, cost of treatment among others, Dr Awuah said it was high time the country considered instituting a free healthcare scheme where everyone commits to financing health to clear issues of funds being a barrier to quality care. 

“The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) is overburdened and realistically cannot shoulder all health care costs, so, it’s high time as a country we think of devising a way of levying everyone to pay a small amount that goes into health so that all through our life, you can access healthcare for free without the burden of cost hanging on your neck.

This will not only encourage people to seek care but reduce mortalities in the country. Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is only achievable if we begin to look at free healthcare for all and people must be willing to pay,” he suggested.

The month of October is commemorated every year as Breast Cancer Awareness Month worldwide to raise awareness on breast cancer which is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women, globally.

The observance of the month is to impress upon women and men, the need to screen their breasts routinely in order to detect the disease at a treatable stage before it becomes deadly.

BY ABIGAIL ANNOH

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