The issue of prostate and breast cancers have attracted global headlines for all the wrong reasons. The scourge of these diseases have snuffed life out of otherwise productive members of society such that it has become a matter of global concern.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organisation (WHO) report shows that world cancer burden has gone up from 14.1 million cases in 2012 to 18.1 million in 2018.
In Ghana breast cancer has overtaken cervix uteri cancer (cervical cancer) from being second to being the leading cause of cancer deaths.
The country recorded 4,645 breast cancer cases from January to September this year alone as surveyed by GLOBOCAN a Cancer surveillance database managed by IARC. According to this survey, out of this number, about 1800 women stand the risk of losing their lives. A Specialist in breast cancer management, Dr Wiafe Addai, describes the situation as alarming.
Equally worrying is the incidence of prostate cancer. Although prostate cancer places fourth after cervical and liver cancers, the disease is fast gaining the notoriety of mercilessly dealing with men across social, economic and geographical strata, leaving in its wake despair and hopelessness for thousands of dependants. New recorded cases of prostate cancer in Ghana stands at 2,132.
The Sticking Point
There appears to be unanimity among cancer experts regarding the major barriers to addressing the issue. The GLOBOCAN research concludes that limited access to timely diagnosis and treatment are largely responsible for its increase. According to Dr Wiafe Addai, intensified education is needed to halt the worrying trend.
The Head of Breast Unit at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, Dr. Florence Dedey, has indicated that late diagnosis, screening, and inadequate facilities are significant factors in the high number of deaths recorded from the disease.
The NDK Foundation Intervention
At the heart of the problem in dealing with the incidence of breast and prostate cancers are the twin challenges of limited education and access to diagnosis.
It is for this reason that the NDK Foundation, in collaboration with Total House Clinic organised a breast and prostate cancer awareness screening for its staff and members of the public in Accra and Tema, where the company operates. These activities were organised in September and October 2018 as it joined the world to mark this year’s prostate and breast cancer months.
The NDK Foundation is the Corporate Social Responsibility wing of NDK Financial Services and has since its establishment in 2016 spearheaded significant interventions in the areas of health, education and sports in line with its focus areas as a socially sensitive organisation. The foundation had in previous years limited the exercise to breast cancer. It has however realised that prostate cancer was fast becoming a silent killer and therefore needed a lot more support.
The Prostate Cancer testing and Breast Cancer screening was for male who are over 40 years and female who are 18 years and above, mostly clients and staff. The joint screening exercises were organized from 19th September to 17th October, 2018, on five consecutive Wednesdays.
The success story
The 2018 exercise was extremely successful in many respects. The Deputy Managing Director of NDK Financial Services Limited, Kuorkor Ayisa explained that as a business, they are not only interested in giving loans and making investments for their clients but also interested in contributing to the total health and well-being of their staff.
“NDK is inspired by the results of last two year’s fruitful partnership which enabled us to screen 500 women in Accra and Tema,” she noted.
A medical doctor at Total House Clinic, Dr Julia Derban, commended NDK for initiating the activity. She recommended self-examination for early detection, adding that men should play a role in helping to examine the breast of their spouses for possible lumps or cancers.
This is heartwarming and suggests that given the right information and facilities, people will avail themselves for screening. A number of the beneficiaries expressed gratitude to the NDK Foundation for their thoughtfulness and urged them to continue in the coming years.
NDK Volunteers were present to support with the education and leaflet distribution
Nineteen staff members were selected as volunteers to assist in various ways to ensure a seamless flow and make guests feel welcome the NDK way.
Apart from the volunteers, staff were also present to help create awareness and assist patrons go through the process.
A supportive NDK Team busily attending to the information needs of patrons
Bursting the Myth
Most people with breast and cervical cancers have little or no knowledge about the disease due to lack of awareness creation about the disease. This is compounded by various myths where among others the disease is attributed to superstition, resulting in people seeking healing and assistance from prayer camps, herbalists or resort to self-medication, rather than reporting early to a health facility. Perception is also rife that sucking a woman’s breast prevents cancer. Dr Wiafe Addai says this is untrue, insisting early report and detection are the way to go.It is expected that interventions by organisations such as the NDK Foundation and Total Clinic will go a long way to help find a lasting and sustained solution to this national catastrophe in waiting.The clarion call is for the private sector to support efforts by governments and donor agencies to nib this incidence in the bud.
The NDK Pink and blue team cannot help but smile to the success of a worthy and priceless cause