A new National Strategy for Cancer Control in Ghana that provides key strategies and interventions for the management and control of major cancers for the next five years was on Wednesday launched in Accra.
The plan, which will provide national direction, is aimed at reducing cancer mortality by 30 per cent through primary prevention, effective screening and early detection; improve effective diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
It will also improve the quality of life for those with cancer and their family by 40 per cent as well as support rehabilitation and palliative care.
Dr Victor Bampoe, Deputy Minister of Health, who launched the document, said to effectively implement the plan, there was the need for multi-sectoral approach to tackling the disease.
He noted that in Ghana, about 16,000 new cases of cancer occur annually of which the commonest types -cervical and breast were common in female adults whilst prostate and liver cancers were recorded in male adults and Burkitt’s lymphoma in children.
The day, observed internally, is on the theme “Cancer: Not Beyond us. Early Detection Saves Lives”.
The Deputy Minister said it was unfortunate that most patients come to the facilities very late for treatment due to various myths and misconceptions about the disease and called on patients to change their beliefs about the disease and seek early treatment to ensure better outcomes.
He called for the involvement of the private sector to ensure smooth implementation of the five year strategic plan.
Dr Kofi Nyarko Programme Manager of the Non Communicable Diseases of the Ghana Health Service noted that most cancer cases were detected at an advanced stage and this has an effect on treatment outcomes.
The burden of cancer in Ghana, he explained, was projected to increase due to ageing, rapid urbanization and unhealthy lifestyles.
“The myths that cancer cannot be cured should be discarded since we have many people who were treated and cured. It is important that all stakeholders join hands to educate the public that early reporting can save lives and that various cancer screening centres are available”.
Professor Joe Nat Clegg-Lamptey, head of Department of Surgery and Surgical of the Korle-bu Teaching Hospital described breast cancer as a ‘silent disease’ and one of the leading cancers in Ghana
He explained that 2,260 women were diagnosed annually with 1,021 deaths and more than 2000 women in Ghana will be affected by breast cancer in 2015 and1000 women will die from Breast cancer if measures were not taken to prevent them.
He attributed the high rate of incidence to the adoption of western lifestyle, diet, lack of exercise and exposure to carcinogens and advised Ghanaians to desist from these habits.