Dr Efua Commeh, Acting Programme Manager for Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD), said this was important because statistics indicated that breast cancer cases were going up and would continue to go up with people shying from routine checkups due to stigma.
She said: “Even though some noise is being made about the disease, a lot of people, especially those in the rural communities still don't think it is dangerous enough when they notice some signs. Some also resort to herbal medicines at the early stage due to stigma, so we are getting most of the cases quite late.”
Dr Commeh was speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) when the Ghana Health Service (GHS) organised a breast screening exercise for its staff and the public to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The Acting Programme Manager said breast cancer remained the commonest cancer among women in Ghana with over 2.3 million women being diagnosed with the disease and a total of 680,000 deaths recorded globally in 2020.
Ghana also recorded an estimated 4,400 cases of breast cancer with 2,055 deaths in 2020, she said, adding that there were still some cases not reported, which was disturbing.
She said most breast cancer deaths could have been avoided if cases were diagnosed early, adding that over 70 per cent of the cases reported were already in their advanced stages.
“Cancer is from stage one to stage four, we are getting about 70 to 75 per cent at stage three and stage four when it is very difficult to do something about it but when it is detected early in stage one, it can totally be treated so we want more people to come early.
“Once you notice any abnormality, don't sit and wait. You should come to the health facility for an examination..,” she said.
Dr Commeh said the GHS in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) was training primary health care providers at Community Health Planning and Services (CHPS) compounds and health centres, so they could add breast examination to the services already being offered.
She said: “We want to make screening regular just as you can walk into any health facility and say I want to check my blood pressure.
“ Once there is a health personnel, the person should be able to conduct a clinical breast examination and this can be very routine regardless of where you are.
Once you have a CHPS compound, you can just walk in and request a clinical breast examination.”