First Lady Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo says early detection and effective treatment of breast cancer are the best possible options available that could help women with the disease to survive.
She said even though not much was known about the actual cause of breast cancer and how it could be prevented, there was hope for those who got the disease through early detection and seeking effective treatment.
She has, therefore, encouraged women to report early at recognised health facilities and comply with treatment that had been proven to be effective, saying, “It is important that we access proven treatment methods and educate others to do the same”.
Mrs Akufo-Addo, who was speaking at the launch of the 2017 Breast Cancer Awareness Month, hosted by the Authorities of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) on Monday, said: “If we are to make a headway in improving the sad outcomes of Ghanaians with breast cancer, we cannot ignore the two pillars of options,” which are early detection and effective treatment.
The theme for the October Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign, being championed by the Korle-Bu Breast Surgical Unit, is: “Early Detection and Effective Treatment Save Lives”.
The month-long campaign, named the: “Pink October,”’ is a globally adopted month that helps to improve awareness of the breast cancer disease.
It features activities including breast screening services, sharing of leaflets on breast cancer and media discussions on the disease.
Mrs Akufo-Addo said, globally, breast cancer was the leading cancer for women and second leading cause of female cancer deaths, while in Ghana it was both the leading cancer and cause of death.
She indicated that the WHO estimates show that more than 2000 women in Ghana get the disease and more than 1,000 die from it every year, with most of the young women between the ages of 40 and 49 being the majority affected.
She said the situation was also compounded with misconception about the disease as well as false claims on treatment on the internet, social media platforms, friends, relatives, and even casual acquaintances.
Mrs Akufo-Addo said unlike advanced countries where patients reported to hospital on time to be diagnosed and treated, majority of breast cancer patients in Ghana reported late and, therefore, received delayed treatment.
The First Lady commended the KBTH for collaborating with other health facilities in the country to mount the awareness crusade and many other laudable projects to reach out to the public for effective prevention, management and control of breast cancer.
“Hopefully, when clients respond accordingly, they will experience a very supportive environment for their treatment and recovery,” she noted.
Dr Felix Anyah, the Chief Executive Officer of KBTH, said over the years the Hospital had made significant strides in the management of breast cancer, and the National Radiotherapy Centre, established in 1997, had been a big boost to the management of cancers in the Hospital, especially breast cancer.
“Before then patients had to travel outside the country to have a full treatment for breast cancer. But now specialists from the centre have since been active in breast cancer research and treatment. The Centre is one of the leading oncology centres in the West African sub-region,” he said.
The Minister of Health, Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, in a speech read for him, said various interventions were being implemented throughout the continuum of care and more professionals were also being trained to help provide services to save many patients from dying from cancers.
Professor Joe Nat Clegg-Lamptey, the Head of Surgical Unit of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), urged all women to visit the various partner health institutions including the 37 Military Hospital, Accra Regional Hospital (Ridge), Nyaho Medical Centre, and the KATH.
Others are the VRA Hospital, Ho Regional Hospital, Tema General Hospital, Legon Hospital, LEKMA Hospital, Trust Hospital Well Woman Clinic and the KBTH for free breast cancer screening during the awareness month.