Aiming for earlier breast cancer diagnosis in Ghana
About 60 percent of people with breast cancer in Ghana are diagnosed when their disease has reached an advanced and incurable stage. The reason for this is thought to be twofold; firstly the high incidence of communicable diseases in the country means patients rarely look for the symptoms of cancer. Secondly, the number of oncologists in Ghana is limited and many general practitioners (GPs) take on the role of oncologist too. This lack of access to appropriate medical consultation is thought to be responsible for around four in ten cases diagnosed at a late stage.
What we’re doing
Roche Ghana took part in three breast cancer awareness activities. The first was an oncology educational programme for nearly 1,000 healthcare professionals (HCPs) to equip them with practical knowledge and skills to enable them to detect cancer early and refer patients appropriately. As part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) 2014, Roche Ghana’s second awareness activity was to take part in – and support – a walk organised by Breast Care International. After the walk, Roche Ghana was given the opportunity to present to participants about the importance of screening and how early diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer can increase the chance of cure. Continuing education around the importance of early detection, Roche Ghana’s third awareness activity identified organisations with large numbers of female followers, such as the Lady Pharmacists Association of Ghana (LAPAG). Representatives from these organisations were invited to attend training about breast cancer and self-examination, with the agreement that they would share their learnings with fellow members.
Participation in the oncology education programme for HCPs far exceeded expectation. The training helped healthcare workers be more attuned to the symptoms of breast cancer and the needs of patients with the disease. By raising awareness of breast cancer screening and the importance of self -examination, Roche Ghana hopes that more women will be diagnosed at an early and potentially curable stage.