Breast cancer patients would no longer have to delay in seeking treatment, thanks to a comprehensive project that seeks to facilitate access to health care.
The programme known as Community-based Awareness and Navigating Breast Cancer Palliative Care, will provide supportive care for cancer patients in the community.
A social media platform comprising patients and caregivers, will ensure the concerns of patients are duly addressed.
Breast cancer is the primary cause of cancer deaths among women globally, responsible for about 425,000 deaths in 2010.
The incidence of breast cancer is also increasing in Ghana.
Data derived from the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital Cancer Registry from 1972 through 1975 shows that breast cancer accounted for 7.5% of all cancers in Ghana.
“If you come to the Kumasi, we continue to record high numbers. There are over 600 cases of women with breast cancer in the Kumasi Cancer Registry alone, which is very alarming and quite disturbing,” said Medical Director, Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Dr. Baffuor Awuah.
However, according to the Ghana Health Service, about 85% of Ghanaians with breast cancer report to hospital with advanced disease that has spread to other parts of the body also known as metastatic breast cancer (MBC).
On average, they report eight months or more after first noticing a change in their breasts.
Project Coordinator, Comfort Asoogo observes late presentation by most patients and challenges in going through health care system have resulted in poor survival rate.
“Low awareness, low educational level, distance to health facilities, financial difficulties and importantly, when patients overcome these initial barriers there may be difficulties with going through our complex health system,” she said.
“Why do our mothers, aunties and relations report so late? Where will a typical patient with breast cancer start from and how does she progress through the system? Is it the family Medicine Directorate, consulting room 9, Breast Care Clinic or Oncology Directorate? Do our patients and their care providers in the periphery know exactly where to send these patients to,” she questioned.
The initiator of the Kumasi Cancer City project, believes the initiative will generate a framework to take care of women with advanced breast cancer in Ghana
Ms Asoogo has therefore secured a grant from the International Union on Cancer Control (UICC) to train two nurses each from the communities in the five sub-metros of Kumasi Metropolis.
The Pfizer Pharmaceutical and Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital-backed programme, will include five nurses from Komfo Anokye making a total of 15.
The project is expected to reach about 600 women with advanced breast cancer and create awareness among some 20,000 people.
It was one of the 20 projects selected from 85 grant applications across the world.