This Month September marks the end of global Prostate and Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. October further brings the spotlight on global breast cancer awareness month. I have decided to throw more light on the cancer situation in the country and what needs to be done.
Everyman has a prostate but every prostate doesn’t have to make a man’s life miserable. Recently, Seth Kwame Boateng of Joy FM ‘Balls in Danger’ prostate cancer documentary has really exposed the challenges and the cancer situation in the country. In the documentary, experts do not even have the idea of the state of the disease.
What got me shocked was the answer from the Director of Non-Communicable Disease Unit who is also not aware of the disease states in the country. One would therefore ask “Wheredo researchers and academic scholars had their figures on prostate cancer to publish in the scientificjournals?
As I stayed glued to my Television and watching keenly experts’analysis; I realized that the country is indeed in crisis. I decided to delve into this issue and employed a search engine with the keywords: cervical, breast, childhood and Prostate cancer in Ghana. These four cancers are the most significant ones affecting the people in Ghana.
The result appears outrageous with cervical cancer topping the national cancer incidence rates annually followed by Breast cancer, prostate and childhood cancer respectively. Shockingly, Prostate cancer death rates beat all the other three significant cancers annually with only 17.7% of men surviving when diagnosed annually.
On Breast and Cervical Cancer
Recently, according to the Ghana News Agency;Dr Joel Yarney, the Head of the Medical Centre for Radiotherapy and Nuclear Medicine at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, has said about 60, 000 cancer cases are recorded by the country annually. He said out of this figure 2,500 were breast cancer cases, and this requires that urgent action be taken to ensure prevention and treatment.
He said this when he chaired the opening ceremony of the second Ghana-Norway Summer School in Medical Physics and Radiology education which opened in Accra. According to the story he further said non-communicable diseases were on the increase. Indeed, Cancer cases in Ghana have risen to a very high figure than previously. For instance, With Cervical Cancer, 3, 000 cases are diagnosed yearly with 1,500 deaths. That accounts for 50% death rates seen yearly.
On Prostate Cancer incidence
On prostate cancer, as at 2007, the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital revealed that the country had exceeded the global average of 170 men out of every 100,000, recording a prevalence of 200 men out of every 100,000.Klufio study, which was also based on a retrospective analysis of the frequency and pattern of genitourinary (GU) cancers seen at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, in Accra, between 1980 and 1990 revealed prostate cancer accounted for 349/479 GU cancers in males (81.4 percent).
A similar study by Wiredu and Armah (2006) conducted for all cancers at the same institution between 1991 and 2000 revealed that prostate cancer accounted for 17.35 percent of all cancers identified and about 31.8 percent of all cancers in males.
A global cancer database compiled in 2010 for the International Agency for Research on Cancer indicated that Ghana records an estimated number of 921 new prostate cancer cases every year while an estimated prostate cancer related death of 758 deaths are recorded every year.
On Childhood Cancers
Recently, another news on peacefmonline revealed that about 1600 childhood cancer cases diagnosed yearly.These figures are outrageous judging from the fact the country has no well-defined National Cancer register to collates all these figures. So obviously, more cancers incidences are not recorded. Currently the country has only two cancer registers: one in Accra and Kumasi and these are Hospital based registers.
Review of cancer Mortality
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) 2,000 Ghanaian women were diagnosed with breast cancer in the year 2012, and out of the number, about 1,000 representing 50 per cent of the cases, died. The report was revealed to the Daily Graphic.
On cervical cancer, the Ghana Human Papillomavirus and Related Cancers, Fact Sheet 2017 estimates indicate that every year 3052 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 1556 die from the disease. Cervical cancer ranks as the 1st most frequent cancer among women in Ghana and the 1st most frequent cancer among women between 15 and 44 years of age.
For prostate cancer, the global cancer database compiled in 2010 for the International Agency for Research on Cancer indicated that Ghana records an estimated number of 921 new prostate cancer cases every year while an estimated prostate cancer related death of 758 deaths are recorded every year. In this case; it means that out of every nine (9) diagnosed with prostate cancer in Ghana yearly, seven (7) die of the disease. This is heartbreaking!
On Childhood cancers, The World Child Cancer revealed that 240 cases are presented each year at the Korle Bu and Komfo Anokye Teaching hospitals. However, only 20% of this figure survives because of late report of cases to the hospital.
Prostate cancer related death tops all other cancers in the country with only 17.70% of those diagnosed surviving yearly (Fig 2). It is followed by Childhood cancers also with 20% survival rates (Fig 2). The Women have done tremendously well with advocacy yet death rates from Breast and cervical cancers are not encouraging (Fig 2) with Cervical cancer only gaining 49% death annually and tops the cancer incidence rates in the country(Fig 1). For those diagnosed with Breast cancer it is like a football match. It is a 50:50 affairs until the game ends. Urgent national attention should be paid to these
The Author Position on Cancer Situation in Ghana
The project was initiated by Men’s Health Foundation Ghana, the National peak body of prostate cancer and a men’s charity working with people affected by Prostate cancer. The charity has been in a forefront of providing the necessary policies to government to help shape cancer services in the country. Recently, the charity presented a proposal to the Presidency to declare fathers’ Day as a National Prostate Health Awareness Day and September as National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month to help strengthened the fight on the disease.
As part of the charity’s submission to the Presidency we also recommend the establishment of National Cancer Foundation to help shape cancer services in the country. The charity is motivated in providing all these national policies as the government made provisions in the 2016 New Patriotic Party’s Manifesto to recognized cancers as National Challenge.
I am therefore calling on the Health Ministry and the Presidency as a matter of urgency to expedite action on the cancer situation in the country.
- Establishment of National Cancer Foundation by this current government to address the situation.
- The National Cancer Foundation should work with cancer charities in the country and conduct extensive research into cancers locally.
- There should be National Policies on cancers in this country including the NHIS.
- National Cancer Awareness Month or Day should be implemented.
- National Cancer Register/data should be instituted with urgency.
- Conventional Cancer Treatment centers in the country should have a unit for evidence-based alternative and Complementary Medicine to help deal with the side effect of conventional medicine.
- Naturopathic Oncologist should be involved in the cancer treatment pathway at the Conventional centers as treatment is holistic.
- Herbal and AlternativePractitionersshould be educated on cancers and the need for referral system.
- The government should consider establishment of one District One Cancer screening and awareness centers.
- The government should enroll massive awareness drives with Mobile Vans across the country.
- Farmers should be educated on the need to practice good farming practices
The review paper revealed that indeed there is blight upon the country and the government should deliver the country from this cancer blight. It is really heartbreaking to see the high incidence and mortality rates in the country. This is heartbreaking as the country has no well-defined National Cancer Register to collatethe entire incidence; so obviously, significant figures are missed. Ghana has only two cancer registers and these are Hospital based registers: One in Kumasi in the Ashanti region and one in the greater Accra region. It is therefore a worry to see these figures in the country.
It is therefore in the right direction for the government to implement the special cancer policy in their 2016 Manifesto to save the nation from the cancer menace. The suggestion for the National Cancer Foundation should be taken seriously.
I will be back with the prostate cancer life expectancy rate and you will realize that it is not a universal occurrence…stay tuned!
By Dr. Raphael Nyarkotey Obu is a research Professor of Prostate Cancer and Holistic Medicine at Da Vinci College of Holistic Medicine, Larnaca city, Cyprus and President of Men’s Health Foundation Ghana.
- Ghana records 60,000 cancer cases every year – Dr Joel Yarney to be accessed at…https://www.ghanabusinessnews.com/…/ghana-records-60000-cancer-cases-every-yea…Jun 13, 2017 –
- Shocking Statistics On Ghana Prostate Cancer Revealed | Health …To be accessed atpeacefmonline.com/pages/local/health/201404/195626.phpApr 8, 2014 –
- Ghana losses 1,500 women to cervical cancer annually | Ghana News …to be accessed at www.ghananewsagency.org/…/ghana-losses-1-500-women-to-cervical-cancer-annually-…Mar 9, 2016
- Economic Impact of Cancer – American Cancer Society. To be accessed at https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-basics/economic-impact-of-cancer.htmlApr 14, 2017
- KM Fenn et al 2014. Impact of Financial Burden of Cancer on Survivors’ Quality of Life …ascopubs.org/doi/full/10.1200/jop.2013.001322
- Understanding and Mitigating the Financial Burden of Cancer Patients. To be accessed at www.ajmc.com/…/understanding-and-mitigating-the-financial-burden-of-cancer-patie…Jul 18, 2016
- Ghana news: Breast cancer deaths high in Ghana – Graphic Onlinewww.graphic.com.gh › General-News. May 18, 2016
- Ghana: Human Papillomavirus and Related Cancers, Fact Sheet 2017. To be accessed at www.hpvcentre.net/statistics/reports/GHA_FS.pdf