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The Director of Health at the Cocoa Clinic, Accra, Dr. Jerry Owusu-Ansah has suggested monthly self-breast examination as the surest way to ensure early detection and treatment of breast cancer.
Speaking at a Breast Cancer Education Seminar at the Cocoa Clinic in Accra, Dr Owusu Ansah expressed worry over increasing incidents of late diagnoses of Breast Cancer cases in the country and called for concerted efforts at addressing the disease.
‘This year’s theme, “Surviving Beyond Breast Cancer, Together We Can” is crucial in demystifying myths about life after Breast Cancer, as current statistics within the country call for intensive focus on early detection through regular screening', he explained.
He further disclosed that the rate of Breast Cancer cases in Ghana compared to other cancers is 31.8%, much higher than the global rate of 25% and attributed the rising frequency to a number of risk factors including family history, diet and lifestyle.
Dr. Owusu Ansah said while Breast Cancer incidents are comparatively higher in western countries, death rate is significantly lower due to the institution of an early detection system and treatment.
He described the increasing mortality rate in Ghana as worrying, adding that early-stage presentation for treatment can easily prevent deaths.
“Early detection is the only hope for successful treatment. The challenge is that Breast Cancer often does not give any symptoms at the early stages that is why regular screening is the way to go. From the age of 20, it is advisable for women to conduct self-examination within five to seven days after their menstrual flow”, he advised.
He advised again that beyond the monthly self-examination, a clinical breast examination once in three years for women under the age of forty years and once every year for those above forty years is important.
This year’s Breast Cancer Education Seminar was organized in collaboration with the Accra Chapter of Yaa Asantewaa Girls Senior High School (YAGHS) Alumni as part of Ghana Cocoa Board’s Pink October Series of Breast Cancer Programmes.
Vice President of the Accra Chapter of YAGHS Alumni, Madam Rita Owusu Brempong, expressed appreciation to Management of Ghana Cocoa Board and Cocoa Clinic for the partnership to educate and screen for Breast Cancer in the month of October.
She disclosed that the month of October is the birthday of the patron of the school, the late Nana Yaa Asantewaa of Ejisu and the Breast Cancer Education Campaign is part of activities to commemorate her birthday.
She urged women not to be scared of screening for Breast Cancer since early detection can help save lives.
Two alumni who are breast cancer survivors also underscored the need for regular breast examination to help with early detection and treatment.
Testifying on her experience with Breast Cancer, 74-year-old Madam Caroline Lokko said self-examination at home prompted her to undergo clinical examination, which led to early detection and treatment of her Breast Cancer two years ago.
Madam Nana Yaa Duncan who discovered her status three years ago, advised women to be advocates of their own health by opting for regular clinical examination. She disclosed that black women genetically have dense tissue cells, which make it difficult to discover breast cancer easily; hence, her first clinical test was not able to detect the cancer. “A lump was detected in my breast after my first clinical examination but further test showed the lump was not cancerous. I however returned two weeks later for another test because three of my family members have died through breast cancer and liver cancer”, she disclosed.
She added that her cancer was hidden underneath a cyst so her request for a lumpectomy led to the discovery of her Breast Cancer.
Nana Yaa advised that anyone with a family history of any form of cancer should undergo regular clinical examination in addition to self-examination.
This year, Cocoa Clinics across the country offered free breast cancer education and screening in October.
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