More than 4,650 women are diagnosed with breast cancer annually in Ghana with 2.3 million new cases worldwide according to the chairperson of the Ghana Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance (GhNCDA), Dr Beatrice Wiafe-Addai.
She said according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), over 70 per cent cancer deaths occur in low and middle income countries, adding that most women affected by breast cancer were below the age of 50 in Ghana.
Dr Wiafe-Addai, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Peace and Love Hospital and Breast Care International (BCI), a non-governmental organisation, was speaking at the launch of the annual "BCI Ghana Walk for the Cure" ahead of the Breast Cancer Month in October.
BCI is a leading breast cancer advocacy organisation providing enabling environment to enhance early detection and reduce the late stage of breast cancer in Ghana.
According to her, breast cancer was the most common cancer in the world affecting women and the statistics would remain "a scar on our conscience, if we do not collectively fight the condition as a national disaster and a developmental issue. It is not only a public health issue."
The 11th edition of the walk is expected to bring about 10,000 health-conscious participants to Accra to create awareness about breast cancer and to also celebrate survivorship.
Dr Wiafe-Addai appealed to the government to ensure mammography were provided in all the regional hospitals in the country, to ease the pains of women, most of whom were from remote areas, travelling to the cities for early detection.
She said it was strange that public hospitals lacked the mammography which were common in many private hospitals, stressing "we should be serious to make such provisions to save women in the country as it is a national concern."
She advised women to conduct self-breast examinations and report anomalies for early treatment, pointing out that "you can survive breast cancer, it is not a curse, it is one of the non-communicable diseases."
The CEO asked women to visit medical centres if they noticed lump, swelling, redness and darkening, change in size, dimpling and nipple discharge in the breast, because early detection of breast cancer was important in saving lives.
The Chief Executive of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), Mrs Elizabeth Naa Kwatsoe Tawiah Sackey, said cancer was a national disaster, therefore the need to create awareness.
She advised women not to hesitate to visit a medical centre on the slightest sign in the breast to avoid escalation of the disease, adding "breast cancer when detected early could be treated, so we have to do self-examination or go to the hospitals for check-up so that in the event of any abnormality it could be caught early and treated effectively."