Health facilities in the country at all levels have been encouraged to screen all women who visit their facility for the early detection of breast cancer for prompt referral and treatment.
This according to Dr. Martin Morna, Head of Department at the Surgical Sub-BMC at the Cape Coast Teaching Hospital (CCTH), would help improve outcome of breast cancer patients as early detection gave the best protection.
“Encounters in facilities within the health sector in any other way or form should be turned into opportunities that will correctly identify patients and redirect them to health resource to get the right type of treatment,” he said.
Dr Morna made the call on Wednesday at the launch of the 2019 “Breast cancer awareness campaign” by the CCTH on the theme “Early detection is the best protection”.
During such encounters, he said clinical data would be collected from the patients and the right assessment made to arrive at a diagnosis, stressing that such aspects of care must be made more accessible to all women.
Dr. Morna indicated that despite the yearly advocacy on the disease, majority of patients came to the hospitals at the advanced stage and emphasised the need for the country to find indigenous ways for the early detection of the disease and make patients had access to right care.
“While early detection of breast cancer through screening has contributed to important reductions in mortality in many high-income countries, Ghana and most African countries have not been able to implement and sustain screening programs due to financial and logistical constraints. This calls for finding ignominious ways of identifying diseases early,” he stated.
According to him, research conducted showed that more than 85 percent of cancer patients presented to the hospital were at stage III and IV of the disease, 82.1 percent presented with invasive breast cancer, while 85 percent presented with high grade breast cancer.
This daunting statistics, he said must be a wakeup call for health facilities, especially referral centres to be proactive and add advocacy and screening to their usual role of treating and managing referred cases.
He noted that over the years, the role of advocacy had been left in the hands of individuals and organisations whose contact with cancer patients were brief with the hospitals usually being passive in the process.
Dr. Morna said breast cancer was the common cause of cancer related death among Ghanaian women accounting for about 7.5 to 16 percent of all cancers with 50 percent mortality.
He said the CCTH on the average, records 50 cases of new breast cancer annually, a situation he described as worrying considering the population of Cape Coast and its environs.
He added that 37 new cases of breast cancer had been recorded between January and August this year.
He said breast cancer had a significant adverse effect on the economy of the country considering the age group among which the disease was encountered and called for more efforts to raise awareness about the disease.
Dr. Eric Ngyedu, Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of CCTH, said it hoped to make the hospital a one stop centre for breast cancer education and treatment.
In this regard, he rallied the support of all stakeholders to sustain the education on breast cancer to ensure early diagnosis and treatment for a better outcome for patients.
Activities earmarked for the Month include daily breast screening at designated points at the CCTH, health education on normal breast and self-breast examination and radio talk shows among others.