Dr Yvonne Otubea Otchere, Consulting Psychologist and Chief Executive Director, PsycCare Consult, says mental health is vital to cancer awareness creation, prevention and treatment of the disease.
“The talk about breast cancer is only relegated to the medical conversation but there are more psychological factors to it. Women should know that their mind affects their bodies in many ways so they need to understand the relationship to self-care,” she said.
Dr Otchere said this at a free breast cancer screening organised for the people in Ashiyie, a suburb in Accra and its environs to mark breast cancer awareness month.
She said when women were sound mentally, they would be able to think right about themselves and their bodies to identify a change to be able to seek help early to save their lives and family.
She said the screening sought to educate and help women and men in the community to detect any abnormalities in their breasts at the early stage and also psycho educate, bridge the gap in the healthcare system.
Dr Otchere said that the number of cases kept increasing despite a yearly campaign and awareness creation, saying last year over 40,000 people were diagnosed with breast cancer and 20,000 died.
She said the yearly campaign and screening should be able to help pick lambs from breast and follow up on the necessary investigations, noting that the mental health campaign missed out during the period.
Dr Otchere said the screening targeted men as well because they were at risk of breast cancer and defused the stigma surrounding it, also to make them understand that they play a very critical role, influencing the decision of the family unit in health-seeking.
She said adolescent breast care should be looked at since cases had been recorded of young people with the disease and to debunk the notion and myth that breast cancer was a menopausal or aged disease, adding that the education and counselling given to them would make ambassadors facilitate knowledge on breast health.
“We ensure that experts were used for the screening which was missing from the numerous campaign because it was not all nurses that were trained to deal with breast health and was necessary to use the right personnel,” she explained.
She said the beneficiaries were taught to self examine themselves five days after menstruation because at that time the breast was relaxed and more easily to pick up any abnormalities or lambs in it.
The steps to follow when undergoing self-examination, include looking in the mirror to find any changes from the normal, lie down on the back with a pillow under the right shoulder, use the pads of the three middle fingers on the left hand to check the right breast, press using light medium and firm pressure in circles without lifting the fingers of the skin.
Others are to follow an up and down pattern, feel for changes in the breast above and below the collarbone and in the armpit and then repeat on the left breast using the right hand.
The Consultant encouraged women and men to regularly screen even after October.
Etornam Bonsah, a Registered Dietician, said dieting had a role to play in the fight and treatment since breast cancer patients tend to lose weight.
She said the diet recommended to a patient would make them meet their adequate needs not to be malnourished and also good dieting could prevent cancer and other ailments.
She advised people to plan their diet, eat a lot of foods high in antioxidants, avoid intake of alcohol and check their blood pressure, sugar level, exercise and eat a balanced diet.
PsycCare Consult holds the breast cancer screening every year in partnership with International Central Gospel Church (ICGC), Heavens Gate Assembly and was looking forward to screening over 300 people.