The Breast Society of Ghana has projected a national guideline for Breast Cancer Management to enable practitioners in the profession to execute their duties effectively and efficiently to manage and reduce breast cancer cases in the country.
Dr Verna Vanderpuye, the National Radiotherapy, Oncology and Nuclear Medicine Center, Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, who chaired the meeting, said clinical practice guidelines were systematically developed statements to assist the practitioner and patients on decisions about appropriate health care for specific clinical circumstances.
The guidelines, she said, would define the role of specific diagnostic and treatment modalities in the diagnosis and management of patients.
Dr Vanderpuye said the guidelines would also enable practitioners give the best current and appropriate quality of care, span the whole continuum of cancer care path-receptor, improve quality and uniformity of practice, promote implementation science, and limit untoward harm to patients.
Dr Dennis Odai Laryea, the Programmes Manager of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), Ghana Health Service, speaking on the National Cancer Control Strategy policy, said the policy recognized cancers as one of the NCDs of special concern.
By this, he said, the Breast Society was designing a strategy for NCDs including breast cancer.
The strategy is expected to promote intraoperative breast construction or breast prosthesis for a post-mastectomy patient under the National Health Insurance Authority, and train front-line staff at all levels including private facilities to carry out screening for cervical and breast cancer.
It would also provide guidelines on screening for NCDs, medical devices required to manage NCDs at various levels of care and as well provide guidelines for continuous public education on tobacco use, diet management, and physical activity.
Even though, the Society was working on designing a strategy, Dr Laryea said key challenges they faced were access to data, screening and clinical care, adding that, “If you screen and there’s no way to manage, then it’s better you don’t screen”.
Other challenges were human resource strength, where they did not have data or plan for the required number of oncologists and other practitioners needed to handle such cases.
“Equipment and infrastructure, screening and early detection, primary prevention, lack of funds and the cost of treatment is challenging to us and most patients as they could not afford it,” he added.
Mrs Rita Appiah-Danquah, a Clinical Psychologist, making a presentation on the “Role of the Psychologist in Managing Breast Cancer,” said breast cancer patients faced challenges with regard to their body image, sexual functioning, fertility, clarifying genetic risk, psycho-social issues and child/job-related stress.
She said breast cancer patients often imagined having problems such as disfigurement, scars and uncertainties in their relationships with family and friends.
“Others also think they might have no option than to change or lose their jobs and resort to begging for survival, have low self-esteem, be stigmatized, and experience challenges in their intimate and romantic relationships,” she said.
Mrs Appiah-Danquah said the complexity and variability of psycho-social issues associated with cancer has created the demand for highly skilled practitioners who were trained to provide multilevel assessment and intervention through the illness continuum.
The Breast Society of Ghana was inaugurated in January 2018 to bring health professionals and other stakeholders from across the country together to work and improve the management and outcome of breast diseases especially cancer.