The month of October is the breast cancer awareness month. Countries across the world, the media, government, NGO’s and Students ensure that breast cancer awareness is celebrated as part of activities to increase support and attention whiles prominence is given to pink outfits or anything Pink especially a Ribbon.
The first organized effort to bring widespread attention to breast cancer occurred as a weeklong event in the United States in October 1985. Since then, campaigns to increase awareness of the disease, to educate people about methods of prevention and early detection and to raise money to support research have extended to countries around the world.
To focus on Ghana, nearly 70% of women diagnosed with breast cancer are in advanced stages of the disease due to low awareness, resulting in limited treatment success and high death rate with limited epidemiological studies on breast cancer in Ghana. A study in 2016 International Journal of Breast Cancer has said.
It is estimated that worldwide over 508k women died in 2011 due to breast cancer (Global Health Estimates, WHO 2013). Breast Cancer as many would assume to be a disease of the developed world due to their enormous medical infrastructure and level of awareness for early detection and treatment.
But according to (globocon) in its 2008 figures, a whooping over 50% of all breast cancer cases and 58% of deaths occur in less developed countries and this is largely due to late detection, from poor awareness levels, financial difficulties as well as access to treatment facilities.
Their results suggested an age adjustment for breast cancer screening to early twenties for Ghanaian women and the need for a nationwide breast cancer screening to understand completely the pattern of breast cancer distribution in Ghana.
According to experts, Ghana lacks a comprehensive breast cancer control policy and treatment guidelines. This treatment is mainly by surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy in few hospitals which are located in urban centres, further creating geographical barriers to accessibility for most Ghanaian women.
Furthermore, financial barriers also exist as cost coverage by the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) not being the best. Despite the lack of resources and infrastructure, few clinical studies from Ghana and other sub –Saharan communities support the general characterizations reported including severe with unfavorable prognostic features, higher prevalence of triple negative breast cancer and absconding during treatment.
There has been a lot of ways to reduce breast cancer risk, this they say is age. Being a woman and getting older is the main risk factor of getting breast cancer. This is because most women have some risk factors but they do not get breast cancer. Early menstrual period before age 12 and starting menopause after age 55 expose women to hormones longer, raising their risk of getting breast cancer. The Centre for Disease Control has said.
Also, women with dense breast are more likely to get breast cancer. Because dense breast has more connective tissue than fatty tissue which can sometimes make it hard to see tumors on a mammogram. A woman’s risk for breast cancer is higher if she has a mother, sister or daughter or multiple family members on either her mother’s or father’s side of the family who have had breast cancer. Also, having a male relative of breast cancer also raises a woman’s risk.
Women who had radiation therapy to the chest or breast before age 30 have a higher risk of getting breast cancer later in life. Women who are not physically active have a higher risk of getting breast cancer. This risk factor can be changed.
Older women who are overweight after menopause have a higher risk of getting breast cancer than those at a normal weight. Women’s risk for breast cancer increases with the more alcohol she drinks. These risk factors can be changed.
Other factors such as smoking, being exposed to chemicals that can cause cancer and changes in other hormones due to night shift working also may increase breast cancer risk.
The best way of treating breast cancer is early detection which is key and also such recognitions on some days like world no bra day is also another way of creating mileage for the breast cancer.
As we have drawn the curtain on breast cancer awareness month, October, let us remember that early detection of breast cancer is key to treatment.
She is the reigning queen of KKB Multimedia Talent Show Hunt 2018, Level 300 PR Student of the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) a Motivator, Philanthropist, Public Speaker. She was recognized as the ‘Outstanding Video Documentary’ of the GIJ @60 Media Contest.Credit; Priscilla Mhame Twebah Aikins Email: email@example.com