Seasoned journalist and Executive Director of Crime Check Foundation (CCF), Ibrahim Oppong Kwarteng has launched a campaign to champion public awareness on breast cancer across the country.
The “Meena Breast Cancer Awareness” project, in memory of his late wife, seeks to promote sustained sensitisation on the disease under the “CCF’s health check series” while providing screening and financial support to patients of breast cancer.
The Head of Breast Unit at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH), Dr Florence Dedey, at the launch described the state of breast cancer in Ghana as “alarming” despite advocacy on it over the years.
She said over 2,000 women died of breast cancer in the country each year out of an estimated 4,000 new cases diagnosed at the major health facilities.
“About 70 per cent of these numbers report rather late with the cancer at advanced stages and there is little we are able to do about it.”
Dr Dedey, said the importance of breast self-examination (BSE) among women to easilysuspect the disease and ensure early treatment could not be underestimated.
She advised that women from age 15 and above make BSE a habit and quickly report to a medical facility should they identify any abnormality with the breast.
“Keep in mind that most breast changes may not be a cancer but it is better to have it checked and if there is an unusual lump, it is picked up in time to save you.
Women must have the courage and be encouraged to report any slight change on the breast to prevent worse stage presentation and prolong their lives,” she urged.
Dr Joyce Wilson, a Medical Officer with the Lighthouse Mission Hospital and a breast cancer survivor, said compared to the huge cost associated with long-term treatment of breast cancer, “self-examination is not expensive and doesn’t cost anything aside your fingers.”
“Do not disregard any change in your breast. Take charge of your health and quickly seek medical advice. The outcome of breast cancer is better if only we can detect early,” she urged.
An Oncology Nurse Resident at the KBTH, Abigail Olympio-Peku, called for a shift in the education on breast cancer to much younger women to improve knowledge on the disease and encourage early detection and treatment.
“With a relatively younger population being affected by breast cancer in recent times, we may need to intervene early in the lives of females; probably right from the secondary and tertiary institutions to reduce incidence of late presentation,” she said.
Ms Olympio-Peku expressed the belief that when “lifelong habit of attentiveness to the breast” is cultivated among young women, it would prove a worthy investment in the fight against breast cancer.
For his part, Executive Director of CCF, Mr Kwarteng who recounted circumstances under which his wife died to the disease, called for sustained education on breast cancer beyond the month of October.
“The late Mrs Amina Oppong Kwarteng intended to champion this course on the deadly nature of breast cancer if she had survived but we intend to carry through the vision and send the message down, as low as the secondary and junior high schools to get girls to self-examine and screen for the disease so they can live to realise their full potential,” he said.
BY ABIGAIL ANNOH