A 2022 study has found that health professionals in Ghana are hiding large breast lumps and refusing various treatment options, especially chemotherapy and mastectomy.
The study, titled “Knowledge, Attitude and Breast Cancer Screening Practices among Female Nurses in a Tertiary Hospital in Ghana,” found that 60% of nurses admitted they would refuse a mastectomy if they were diagnosed with breast cancer.
The study also found that despite the nurses’ adequate knowledge of the disease, only 67% of them regularly practiced breast self-examination (BSE), 39% had previously had a clinical breast examination (CBE), and 85% of those under 40 years old had never had a mammogram.
Dr. Afua Commeh, the Programme Manager of the Non-Communicable Diseases Control Programme at the Ghana Health Service, described the situation as unfortunate, saying nurses are supposed to educate the public about 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 the Breast Society of Ghana.”
Dr. Commeh said it was important for nurses to know that they could also be sick and must take advantage of healthcare interventions.
She said this was crucial because Ghana was losing too many women to breast cancer.
Dr. Commey said data from 2022 estimated that over 4,000 women were diagnosed with breast cancer in Ghana, out of which over 2,000 died of the disease due to late presentation.
“Over 50% 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 the BSOG, said breast cancer remained the most commonly diagnosed cancer and the leading cause of mortality among Ghanaian women.
She said the meeting was intended to showcase the 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 to know how to reduce the incidence and 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 destigmatize breast cancer.
The meeting saw scientific presentations on breast cancer, breast cancer management, and engagement with survivors, among others.