Breast Cancer survival rate low in Ghana – Health expert

Inadequate medical resources and socio-cultural belief system, late diagnosis and couple with its management have been identified as contributing to the low survival rates of breast cancer patients in the country.

These came to light at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Breast Society of Ghana (BSoG) held in Accra on Friday

The AGM was under the theme “Breast cancer in Ghana, Strengthening the strategies and modalities for improving survival.”

The head of the Breast Unit at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, Dr Florence Dedey, expressed worry about the low survival rate of breast cancer patients in the country and called for an aggressive approach to revise the trend.

Being the most common female cancer in Ghana, the projections, she said showed that cases of the disease would continue to rise and therefore called for an increase in awareness beyond the traditional awareness conducted in October.

According to her,late diagnosis and its attendant challenges of management, had also contributed to the low survival rates, calling for more to be done in the areas of advocacy and research.

Dr Dedey, who is also the president of  BSoG bemoaned that non-compliance to breast cancer treatment was another cause for worry, saying it was very important for patients to always adhere to the advice of their healthcare givers to increase their chances of survival.

BSoG, she said was a group dedicated towards improving the outcome and management of breast diseases especially cancer, in Ghana.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), Dr Bernard OkoeBoye, in his keynote address said while in well-resourced countries survival rates for breast cancer was above 80 per cent, in Ghana, the percentage lingered around 40 per cent, attributing the low rate to the lack of early detection.

“In some jurisdictions including Ghana and her West African neighbours,inadequate medical resources and socio-cultural belief systems that generate myths about breastcancer are still working against efforts to encourage early detection, treatment and improvingsurvival of victims,” he noted.

These factors according to DrOkoeBoye had swelled the late detection of breast cancer cases to an estimated 67 per cent or higher.

He therefore advised  women to lookout for unusual dimpling of the skin around the breast as that was  anearly warning sign for possible breast cancer, cautioning them against relying on information from friends and family,instead of doctors who he said where the professionals to consult.

“Pain in the breast is rather more likely to be one of the late signs when it occurs withother changes. Obviously, we need to step up awareness.”

“When breast cancer patients seek information from friends and family instead of medical doctors, they tend to be conflicted with the information they are fed. This has often led to a high rate of non-compliance to treatment schedules and poor survival,” DrOkoeBoyeadded.

He further expressed a deep concern that averagely,99 per cent of victims were often women in their prime of life who were at their most productive in society and maintained that continuing to lose such women to breast cancer remained counter-productive to national development.

He assured the BSoG of his outfit’s continuous engagement to improve support for breast cancer victims.



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