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16.10.2008 Health

First breast cancer symposium held

By gna

Speakers at a symposium on breast cancer in Accra
on Thursday bemoaned the late presentation of the disease in hospital, warning that this reduced the survivor rate of the patient.

They contended that early detection translated into early diagnosis and early treatment which was more affordable and increased survivor rates.

Cancer is an abnormal or unbridled proliferation of cells of the body with potential for local extension and very often distant spread, bringing in its wake, untold suffering to victims and families.

The symposium was attended by international delegations from the Susan G. Komen for Cure based in the USA, HopeXchange Catholic university of Rome, Breast Health Global Initiative, Seattle, USA and the University of Michigan, USA.

Representatives from Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), The Peace and Love Clinic and the Breast Care International, all involved in the fight against breast cancer, also attended.

The symposium is to be followed by the commissioning of the HopeXchange Medical Centre in Kumasi by President John Agyekum Kufuor on Friday, to reach out to breast cancer patients.

Dr. Riccardo Masetti, Chairman of Ghana Breast Cancer Alliance (GBCA), said it would create a powerful synergy by combining the vast resources and expertise of some of the world's premier breast cancer facilities and organisations with the knowledge and experience of leading Ghanaian experts.

He explained that the collaborative approach would enable them to achieve far greater results than what an organisation could achieve on its own.

Ms Hala Moddelmog, President of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Dallas, USA, said Komen had made a grant of 250,000 dollars, its largest ever, to support the activities of GBCA.

“We are confident that the Ghana Breast Cancer Alliance will open the way to significant results, and we are proud that our commitment in Africa can start with such promising perspectives,” she added.

Dr. Beatrice Wiafe, Executive Director, Peace and Love Hospital and Breast Care International, said widespread and harsh social stigma surrounding breast cancer led many women who hide their symptoms, to avoid being shunned or divorced by husbands.

She blamed the situation on lack of awareness, inadequate or bad treatment, lack of support and cost involved and called for demystifying some myths and misconceptions of it being not curable and fate.

She suggested that all hospitals should be provided with screening mammography and counsellor to reduce the rate of patients absconding.

Dr. Baffour Awuah, Head of Oncology, KATH, said breast cancer formed 24 per cent of all cancer recorded at the hospital with the age distribution of 40-49.

He said the diseases should not be seen as one for women and noted that the hospital recorded 455 men and 538 women in 2007 and observed that late presentation was a challenges that needed awareness creation to stem the tide.

Dr Joe-Nat Clegg Lamptey of the Korle-bu Teaching Hospital said breast cancer was the third most common causes of hospital admissions after cardiovascular diseases and poisons related diseases.

It constituted 15.4 per cent of cancer recorded in the hospital with the incidence doubling every decade, he said, and also expressed concern of the late presentation of the disease to the hospital.

He commended the survivor groups for their support and encouragement to women with the disease saying they made the work easier.

Mrs Glady Boateng, Director, Reach for Recovery Ghana, a breast cancer support group and counselling centre, and a breast cancer survivor for nine years, said her experience encouraged her to replicate in Ghana what the NGO
did for her when she received treatment in South Africa.

She said with an encouraging number of survivors in the group their mission was to bring hope for survival to all who had been touched by breast cancer by providing a source of information, strength, support and encouragement and that every women touched by it would sacrifice her time, effort and skill to bring comfort, hope and relief to breast cancer sufferers and their families.