Pink October is here, let’s touch the breast

In October every year, Ghana joins the rest of the world to observe the Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign to increase awareness and education on breast cancer.

The global goal is to show every woman that her life is important and to ensure women have access to education, screening, treatment, support and hope.

Breast cancer occurs when cells in the breast grows out of control. It affects a large population of women and rarely in men.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are about 1.38 million new cases and 458 000 deaths from breast cancer each year.

Presently, breast cancer is the most common and the second most fatal cancer in women worldwide, both in the developed and developing countries.

In low-and middle-income countries, the incidence has been rising up steadily in the last years due to increase in life expectancy, increase urbanization and adoption of western lifestyles.

Currently there is not sufficient knowledge on the causes of breast cancer, therefore, early detection remains the cornerstone of breast cancer control.

When breast cancer is detected, diagnosed early and treatment are available, there is a good chance that breast cancer can be cured.

If detected late, however, curative treatment is often no longer an option. In such cases, palliative care to relief the suffering of patients and their families is needed.

Early signs of breast cancer can be a lump in a breast, a painful breast or armpit, a discharge from the nipple, and a change in the shape of the nipple.

As many activities are held all around the world to raise awareness about breast cancer, there is the need for women to examine their breast, have it checked and take care of their breast.

Unfortunately, breast examination is very low in the country.

Cursory checks reveal that only a handful of women examine their breasts.

Dr Beatrice Wiafe Addai, Founder of Breast Care International (BCI), told the Ghana News Agency in an interview on Monday that although there had been a lot of education on breast cancer in Ghana, more had to be done to get more women to examine their breast on their own.

“It is time for women to understand that they have to go to the hospital whenever they feel something unusual in their breasts and stop wasting their time at the prayer camps and on traditional medicines as it only delays treatment,” she said.

Dr. Addai said this year, the theme adopted by BCI for the Breast Cancer Awareness Month celebration was “Grab life by the Boobs,” aimed at encouraging women to touch their breasts, and know them to be able to easily identify abnormalities.

She said research indicated that the incidence of breast cancer was on the rise in Ghana with about 4,650 breast cancer cases recorded every year out of, which about 1,800 died.

Dr Addai said the situation could be higher this year with COVID-19 causing the shutdown of cancer care units in most hospitals and the suspension of breast cancer treatment.

She said at the moment, many hospitals were realising very advanced stages of the disease, a situation which often led to death.

Dr. Addai said cancer was a hospital disease thus the urgent need for the creation of a breast cancer fund, which would support women who found problems with their breasts.

Dr Addai said the BCI would hold two fund raising events in Accra and Kumasi this month to raise funds to support women with breast cancer.

Maame Yaa, a 32-year-old plantain seller at Agbogbloshi Market in Accra, said she thought the application of avocado pear on the breast could cure breast cancer until her sister died from the disease.

She described the experience as worrying but said she was yet to examine her breasts, four years after her sister died.

Kingsley Addo, a commercial driver in Accra, also said his wife had never had her breasts examined because he always played with them.

Experts say whilst it is good that husbands help in examining the breasts of their wives, it was important that women, occasionally visit the hospital for checkups.

The call for Breast Cancer Fund is appropriate and I urge Government and benevolent organizations to lead the cause and support women living with breast cancer to go through the high cost of care.

By Linda Naa Deide Aryeetey

Source: GNA

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