According to the Minister, breast cancer is among the major female cancers in Ghana, and the second commonest cancer among women in Ghana.
Minister of Health, Alex Segbefia, is advocating more awareness creation on breast cancer in the country even though he believes efforts aimed at preventing and controlling the disease condition have been encouraging.
He said this is compounded by the limited human resource and diagnostic capacity to manage breast cancer, which leads to a long waiting time for treatment.
Mr. Segbefia was speaking at the launch of the breast care centre of the Volta River Authority (VRA) Hospital in Akosombo in the Eastern Region.
According to the Minister, breast cancer is among the major female cancers in Ghana, and the second commonest cancer among women in Ghana. The condition also forms 15 per cent of all cancers and 40 per cent of female cancers.
Breast cancer also affects Ghanaians from as young as 20 years , even though most of the younger women have sarcomas of the breast, indicating that the disease is generally common as one gets older.
Statistics also show that majority of breast cancer cases in Ghana are from 40-49 years. Mr. Segbefia also noted that breast cancer control involves the range of care, which comprises prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment and supportive care.
He further acknowledged the need to improve access to treatment and care of breast cancer, and live healthy lives as individuals to prevent the development of the disease, as 30 per cent of cancers are potentially preventable through healthy living.
In addition, breast clinics at the two major teaching hospitals and few regional hospitals, as well as some quasi government facilities and private facilities to offer breast cancer screening and some form of treatment.
He called on the staff of the VRA hospital and the public to make good use of the facility to help reduce the burden of breast care and cancer in the area.
Dr Charles Arhinful, Team leader of the breast care centre said the facility aims at giving holistic care to patients with breast cancer, because it’s on record that most patients referred to the teaching hospitals refuse to go, making their condition worse.
According to him, the centre, which is in collaboration with MOTEC-LIFE, an international organisation is ready to support the work of the teaching hospitals by getting involved in reconstructive breast surgery aside breast treatment and increase breast cancer awareness adding that the services being offered would be exactly as that of the teaching hospitals.
Dr Arhinful said annually, Ghana records more than 2000 incidents of breast cancer and out of that about 1000 die. Although Western Europe records more incidents than Africa, Africa records more fatalities because people do not report early due to myths and perceptions about breast cancer and high cost of treatment.
He therefore appreciated the provision of a one stop centre to treat such patients and pleaded with the Ministry of Health to provide enough facilities with the needed equipment to operate successfully.
Mrs Rebecca Acquaah- Arhin, Managing Director, VRA Health Services said the launch coincides with the breast awareness week and the breast care team has been moved to Accra, Aboazi, and Akosombo to create awareness among communities and religious organisations.
She advised women to adopt the habit of examining their breast once every month for early detection, saying: ‘If you know how your breast looks like when there is a change you would notice.”