It is a well-known fact that the breast is one of the most popular and essenKal organs in the body, especially of females. Every human, irrespecKve of gender comes into contact with this mysterious body part at one stage or another in life. Throughout pregnancy, the breasts grow and literally get pumped up for work when baby arrives. It was excepKonally designed by God to be a reliable milk factory for the newborn; producing the requisite nutrients in right proporKons for their growth. It is disheartening when the breasts are unable to do their work because of disease. Not only are unsuspecKng babies affected but also spouses, families, countries and the world.
Let us take a brief trip down memory lane. Old-world EgypKans were the first to report on breast cancer more than 3500 years ago. At the Kme, they refered to it as, ‘bulging tumours of the breast that has no cure’. Today, we know this is not completely true. Over centuries the knowledge and treatment modaliKes of breast cancer have grown and been fine-tuned, resulKng in thousands of survivors. Breast cancer is no longer a death sentence. Bill Rancic, an American entrepreneur and spouse of a breast cancer survivor captured it brilliantly with his statement, ‘With breast cancer, it’s all about early detecKon. You have to educate young women and encourage them to do everything they have to do.
Research by WHO detected that from the 1980s to 2020, there was a decline in the rate of age- standardised breast cancer mortaliKes by about 40% in high-income countries. This implies that these places saw at least 2-4% reducKon in their breast cancer related deaths annually. The win was aaributed to educaKon, early detecKon and treatment. In Ghana, however, the story was not same. As the world recorded a 29.5% incidence rate of the condiKon in 2020, we had a rate of 31.8%. About 70% of women in Ghana iniKally diagnosed with breast cancer were already far advanced. This finding is very alarming if we must catch up with the reducKon rate in high income countries. A number of factors were aaributable to this finding and fear was paramount among them.
There is a common saying among Ghanaians, ‘What you don’t know will not kill you’. Underlying this saying is a stalwart fear of the unknown. It is the excuse we give when we are scared of the outcome of the unprecedented. Fellow Ghanaians that is an erroneous way of thinking, especially with regards to breast cancer. If you don’t know, it will definitely kill you. I lost my favourite aunt to breast cancer as a child because of fear. She was scared when she discovered a lump in her breasts and hid it unKl it was ulcerated and had a foul discharge. The stench drew the aaenKon of loved ones and at that stage, the cancer was far advanced. I lost her few weeks acer that. The thing to fear is fear itself.
In this month, let us remember to feel the boobs, be courageous and share the findings, so that we can thrive 365 days and more. We will be present mothers for our babies, spouses and families and conKnue to contribute our much-needed quota to the enKre world. Breast cancer is curable if you will feel the boobs today and speak up.
- Akuoko, C.P. ,Chambers, S. & Yates , P. Healthcare providers’ perspecKves of the supporKve care needs of women with advanced breast cancer in Ghana. BMC Women’s Health 22, 350(2022). haps://doi.org/10.1186/s12905-022-01931-7
- Mandal, Ananya.”History of Breast Cancer”. News-Medical. 03 October 2023. www.news-medical.net/health/History-of-Breast-Cancer.aspx.