The First Lady, Mrs Lordina Mahama has called on women to take advantage of the month long cancer awareness celebrations to have their breasts checked.
She said the only known solution to breast cancer now was early detection, and that, although breast cancer is a deadly disease, if detected early it could be cured or controlled.
Mrs Mahama further advised women, who had survived breast cancer to share their success stories with family, friends, colleagues and church members to motivate them to go for breast examination.
Speaking in an interview to mark the breast cancer awareness month in Accra, Mrs Mahama noted that, a significant number of breast cancer patients had overcome the disease and have testimonials to share, which can give hope to those who are battling the disease and those who are yet to be diagnosed.
The First Lady, therefore urged women to take an active role in their own healthcare and to encourage those they love to do the same.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM), also referred to as the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM), is observed in October every year, to promote early detection of breast cancer by encouraging women to have mammograms, an x-ray of the breast to detect abnormalities in breast tissue.
Currently, approximately 2,900 Ghanaians are diagnosed with breast cancer every year.
According to the First Lady, breast cancer does not strike an individual alone but the whole family unit. Hence the impact of the disease was therefore profound on both the woman diagnosed with the disease and her family.
Mrs Mahama said advances in knowledge and progress in the therapy of breast cancer have been based upon a multi-disciplinary approach, requiring early detection and screening guidelines as well as the proper treatment and follow-up of patients.
She said breast cancer was a major killer of women, both globally and regionally, and that, studies have shown that most patients with breast cancer sought for medical attention for the first time at stages two and three, indicating the need for increased community awareness and early detection of the disease.
Mrs Mahama said symptoms may include any change in the size or the shape of the breast, pain in any area of the breast, nipple discharge other than breast milk (including blood), and a new lump in the breast or underarm.
She called on women with any of the signs to seek medical help right away.
The First Lady, who is also the President of the Organisation of African First Ladies (OAFLA), said the Ghana Chapter of the organisation, together with the Lordina Foundation, the Ghana AIDS Commission and the UT Foundation have embarked on a free health screening exercise, throughout the country to bring health to the doorstep of Ghanaian women.
She indicated that the high incidence and mortality rates of breast cancer, as well as the high cost of treatment and limited resources available, require that it should continue to be a focus of attention for public health authorities and policy-makers.
“The costs and benefits of fighting breast cancer, including the positive impact that early detection and screening can have, need to be carefully weighed against other competing health needs,” she added.
She stressed that health officials need to formulate and implement plans that will effectively address the burden of the disease, including setting policies on the early detection and screening of breast cancer. GNA