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Health News of Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

World Cancer Day: I dodged operation 8 times out of fear - Breast Cancer Victim

More than 4,500 women in Ghana are diagnosed with breast cancer annually play videoMore than 4,500 women in Ghana are diagnosed with breast cancer annually

In Ghana, most cancer cases are reported to health facilities in the late stages where the cancer cell might have spread to other body organs.

The most-reported cancer cases in Ghana are breast, cervical and prostate. There are various cancers that cut across both sexes, children are also at risk of cancer with the most common being leukemia.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 4,500 women in Ghana are diagnosed with breast cancer annually, it is scary as most women die due to little or no knowledge about the disease.

A breast cancer survivor at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, Barbara Quartey, in narrating her ordeal advised women to seek early treatment when diagnosed with the disease.

She said that her refusal to undergo surgery to remove a lump that had developed in her breast caused Doctors to remove her right breast after her condition worsened.

“I went to the hospital and was given a referral letter to Korle-Bu (OPD). I was diagnosed with cancer and advised to undergo surgery to remove the lump. I run away on the day of the operation; I was afraid. I did that on eight occasions… I will advise persons not to shy away from operations, come to the hospital for early-stage cancer treatment. I was stubborn, I could have prevented my breast being cut if I had sought for treatment in the early stage”

Women are advised to undergo a clinical breast examination or regular mammograms to make possible the early diagnosis of some pre-cancerous conditions and early-stage cancers.



Cancer kills, chances of survival for stage 4 cancer is low meaning that termination is almost impossible. There is a wide range of treatment and therapies that shrink or destroy cancer cells which develop in the body.

Cervical cancer is the second leading cause of death among women in Ghana. The gynecology units of the various health centers mostly receive cases in their advanced stage.

Most women term the disease as “spiritual”, for that matter, they resort to spiritual doctors and prayer camps for healing. Cervical cancer can be easily prevented through vaccination and screening.

According to the Lead General Practitioner at Medifem Multi-Specialist Hospital & Fertility Centre, Dr. Sampson Asala, a cure can be achieved with early diagnoses and treatment.

“In most people, by the time it starts, they will go from herbal center to prayer camps. They don’t believe that it is even a sickness for which they need treatment… they go all around by the time they come we see it but there is little we can do. It is very heartbreaking especially when somebody comes and they saw it but they sat back because they taught it wasn’t anything” he stated.

The cost of treating cancer can be expensive, depending on the stage, medication and the specialized technique used in treatment.

In Ghana, the National Health Insurance covers the cost of treatment for breast cancers with the exception of radiotherapy. However, just 20 percent of breast cancer patients benefit from National Insurance.

Director of the Radiotherapy and Oncology Centre at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, Dr. Joel Yarney, has highlighted the need for Ghana to develop a systematic approach in dealing with the various cancers, adding that a year-round program needs to be implemented on the need for screening and vaccination.

“We need a systematic approach rather than these ad hoc measures, Breast Cancer Day, World Cancer Day and we talk about it and then we go to sleep. If it is a program that will be prosecuted by the District Health Management Team”

“There are other parts of screening where we need to put in place some logistics let’s say screening using Mammogram, they are expensive, the ones used for population-based screening. If we want to do it well, then we have to invest. It can be a mobile van that can move everywhere, that can be done in a systematic way”

There has also been an improvement in cancer patient services with the provision of modern cancer treatment machines. The National Radiotherapy and Oncology Centre at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital is equipped with machines including the medical linear accelerator (LINAC) which is used in treatment.

Ghana has made strides in creating awareness on some cancers with breast cancer being the highest, however, more needs to be done to prevent future occurrence.

World Cancer Day is celebrated on February 4 to raise and intensify the awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment.

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