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05.12.2005 Health

Lack of data on breast cancer hinders awareness creation - Aryee

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Accra, Dec. 5, GNA - Lack of proper assembled data on the incidence of breast cancer in the country is hampering the package and accurate dissemination of awareness messages to show the magnitude of the problem, Ms Joyce Aryee, Chief Executive of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, said on Monday.

She said there had been instances where innovative programmes had been introduced but they received low public patronage because the public was not convinced that the disease was on the rise. Speaking at the press launch of "Joyce Tamakloe Memorial Cancer Foundation" (JTMBF) in Accra, Ms Aryee said many women were becoming afflicted and many were dying of the disease ignorantly. "The Ghanaian society should see this as a threat to all," she said.

The Foundation is established in memory of the late Joyce Tamakloe, who died at the age of 57 on the January 15, 2004 of breast cancer. Ms Tamakloe, who was an industrious woman, was the Director of Engineers and Planners, a construction company. She was also the first woman to bag rice to compete with Uncle Ben's Rice in the early 1970s. The foundation, established by her children, has a seed of 200 million cedis. It has Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II as presiding with Ms Joyce Aryee, Mr Simon Dornu, Treasurer of Barclays Bank Ghana Limited, Dr J. N.0 Clegg-Lamptey, Consultant Surgeon of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital and Mrs Irene Nyantekyi-Owusu, a cancer survivor, as members of the Board of Trustees.

The Foundation aims at creating awareness on the prevalence of breast cancer provide information on methods of early detection and organisation. It is also to draw the needed attention to the plight of Ghanaian women afflicted each year by the disease and offer aid, counselling and guidance.

Ms Aryee noted that there were at least 43,131 women with breast cancer in Ghana and it was estimated that two-thirds of them were at the advanced stages.

"This calls for great concern and a redoubling of efforts to bring awareness and early detection services closer to women." She said about 56 per cent of breast cancer patients in Ghana were pre-menopausal signifying that most women got afflicted with the cancer earlier in their lives because statistics indicated that 88 per cent of Ghanaian women had early menstrual periods.

Ms Aryee called for intensive education on breast cancer to encourage more women to patronise awareness programmes, undergo yearly examinations since the only way to survive cancer was early detection. Mr Michael Mahama, son of Mrs Tamakloe and founder of the foundation, said though currently Korle-Bu had got the facilities to detect, diagnose and provide chemotherapy and radiotherapy and surgery, public campaign on the disease was still lacking. He said together with other siblings, the foundation would help to sensitise the public to dispel many misconceptions about the disease, offer support for peer groups and offer financial support to make breast prosthesis readily available.

"We also need to desperately provide more diagnostic equipment such as mammography machines and we also need to lobby the Government to recognise the magnitude of the incidence of breast cancer in Ghana to lend its support where applicable."

Mr Mahama said as part of events planned for the launch, there would be a three-day charitable polo fundraising game from December 22 to December 24 at the Copra Cove Equestrian Centre, New Ningo. Other activities would include luncheon to be hosted by Otumfuo Osei Tutu II; horse against car racing; ladies day; children's picnic and children's games.

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