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Frequent cancer screening saves lives – Dr Florence Dedey

Ghana between 2008 to 2022 saw a 60 per cent increase in cancer cases resulting in an estimated number of 27,400 diag­nosis over the period.

The Head of Breast Unit at the Surgical Department of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Dr Flor­ence Dedey, who revealed this said mortality also increased by 70 per cent within the same period with estimates of 18,000 deaths.

She was speaking at a cancer survivor’s gala over the weekend in Accra, organised by the Cancer Support Network Foundation (CSNF).

The event was the climax of a series of cancer awareness programmes and donations of cash to cancer patients organised throughout June to raise aware­ness about cancer survivorship in Ghana.

It was held on the theme ‘Rising strong beyond cancer: A celebra­tion of survivorship and hope for all.’

According to Dr Dedey, the most common cancers in Ghana were breast, liver, cervix, pros­tate, ovary, and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The risk of developing cancer before age 75 in the country, she said was currently one in every nine males, one in every seven females, and one in eight for both sexes, while the risk of dying from cancer before age 75 was one in every 12 males, one in every 11 females, and one in 12 for both sexes.

She therefore emphasised the importance of cancer prevention, stressing the need for awareness creation and frequent screening to save lives.

“An often-neglected part of the cancer journey is the survivorship period, which brings its own set of challenges, cancer survivors are generally expected to just snap back to normalcy and continue with life irrespective of all these challenges they may face,” she remarked.

Explaining, she noted that “I identify totally with cancer survivors. I believe I was invited here because I am a general sur­geon whose work is mostly with breast cancer patients. But I also wear a second hat, I am a cancer survivor.”

“I was diagnosed in August 2016 with breast cancer, under­went the required treatments, and am still taking my daily tablets of hormonal therapy. So, I speak to you not only as a clinician treating cancer patients but also as a cancer survivor.”

According to Dr Dedey, cancer was a significant cause of mor­bidity and mortality, predicted to increase in the next two decades, adding that the impact of cancer was not just physical for the indi­vidual diagnosed but also psy­chological, social, economic, and spiritual, affecting the patients, their families, society, and the nation at large.

She praised CSNF’s initiative to introduce the celebration of Can­cer Survivors Month in Ghana, highlighting the need for continu­ous support during the post-treat­ment phase.

She encouraged individuals and institutions to support advocacy groups like CSNF to achieve bet­ter outcomes for cancer patients and survivors.

Founder of the CSNF, Dr Juliet Appiah Quansah in her submis­sion said cancer is not a death sen­tence, therefore survivors should endeavour to come out and share their stories of survival to give others hope.

President of the foundation, Mr Akwasi Osei on his part, said the stories of courage and determi­nation of all cancer survivors inspired everybody.

He called on the government to introduce initiatives to reduce the huge costs of cancer care in Ghana on patients to increase the rate of survival.

 BY RAISSA SAMBOU

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