Research conducted in 2022 has revealed that health professionals in the country hide huge breast lumps and refuse various treatment options, especially chemotherapy, and mastectomy.
The research, titled: “Knowledge, Attitude and Breast Cancer Screening Practices among Female Nurses in a Tertiary Hospital in Ghana”, said 60 per cent of nurses admitted they would disagree with a mastectomy in the event of being diagnosed with breast cancer.
It said despite the adequate knowledge of nurses on the disease, only 67 per cent of them regularly practised Breast Self-Examination (BSE), 39 per cent had previously had a Clinical Breast Examination (CBE) and 85 per cent of those under 40 years had never done a mammogram.
Dr Afua Commeh, the Programme Manager of the Non-Communicable Diseases Control Programme, Ghana Health Service, described the situation as unfortunate because nurses were supposed to educate the public on breast screening practices.
She was speaking at the fourth annual general and Scientific Meeting of the Breast Society of Ghana (BSoG) on the theme; “Improving Breast Disease Outcomes. The Role of Breast Society of Ghana”.
Dr Commeh said it was about time nurses knew they could also be sick and must take advantage of healthcare interventions.
She said that was crucial because Ghana was losing too many women to breast cancer.
Dr Commey said 2022 data estimated that over 4,000 women were diagnosed with breast cancer in the country, out of which over 2000 died of the disease due to late presentation.
“Over 50 per cent of women diagnosed dying of breast cancer is unacceptable and I believe there is more because some of the cases were not picked up,” she stated.
Dr Commeh called for strategic partnerships across all sectors to improve breast cancer outcomes.
Dr Hannah Ayettey Anie, the President of BSoG, said breast cancer remained the most commonly diagnosed cancer and the leading cause of mortality among Ghanaian women.
She said the meeting sought to showcase activities of the Society throughout the year, present research conducted over the period, and discuss the outcomes.
The aim is to help understand the disease dynamics in Ghana and know how to reduce the incidence of mortality of breast cancer effectively.
Mr Charles Fordjour Agyemang, Council Chair of the Breast Society of Ghana, said Ghana remained behind the developed world in access to newer technologies and innovative therapies.
He said it was the responsibility of generations and bodies like the BSOG to close the gaps.
“This means we have to evolve BSOG into an association that will be the only umbrella body that hosts all critical stakeholders needed in creating these solutions.
“It will extend radiotherapy and its free access beyond Accra and Kumasi, diagnostics, and innovative therapies under NHIS, and strong survivor groups to advocate and motivate patients,” he added.
Mr Agyeman urged the media to destigmatise breast cancer.
The meeting saw scientific presentations on breast cancer, breast cancer management, and engagement with survivors, among others.