As the world observes Breast Cancer Awareness month this month, women above 40 years in the five regions in the north may not have their breasts adequately screened for cancer as there is no single mammography machine in this part of the country.
In the circumstance, they may not know their status or undergo proper treatment, a situation, which poses grave danger to their well-being.
The lack of mammography machine is not only affecting treatment for women above age 40 diagnosed with cancer, but also a challenge to health care workers as it puts them in a dilemma in terms of how to screen women above that age.
The GNA gathered that the nearest place to the north where a mammography machine is available is the Holy Family Hospital at Techiman.
Mammography machine is used to screen women who are above the age of 40 and it is the standard diagnostic test to confirm lumps in breasts.
The Tamale Teaching Hospital (TTH) had this machine, however, it broke down several years ago leaving patients, who require such services, to either travel to Techiman or abandon treatment.
The month of October is observed as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is an annual campaign to increase awareness on breast cancer to ensure, amongst others, that every woman has access to education, screening, treatment, and support of the disease.
According to the American Cancer Society, there are more than 270,000 new cases of breast cancer and nearly 42,000 breast cancer deaths annually, and breast cancer is the most common cancer and the second most fatal cancer in women.
As part of the month-long event, the TTH has been screening women free of charge of breast cancer and counselling them on the disease.
Since the beginning of the month, the hospital (TTH) has screened about 1,000 women of the disease, where about 10 per cent of them were identified as positive cases, some of the cases at advanced stages.
Madam Evelyn Osei-Amoah, Oncology Nurse Specialist at the TTH, who spoke to the GNA in Tamale on Wednesday about the effects of non-availability of the mammography machine at the facility and the entire five regions in the north, said “You will write the request for the patients and it can take a patient about three months to bring the results.”
Madam Osei-Amoah said “You can’t blame the patient because she is now going to look for lorry fare to travel to Techiman and go and pay for the test also. So, there are some of them, we write for them and they won’t even do it, and that is a huge challenge.”
She added that “When it comes to us screening our women, when we get there, we are a bit stuck and even at the breast clinic, when a woman comes above that age complaining of pain, complaining of uneasiness in the breast, what at all are you going to do? Are you just going to use a needle to prick trying to find out where?
She expressed the urgent need for the machine to be provided at least at the TTH, adding “If we have the mammography machine, a patient could have done that test and it would have been of help to us. So that is a huge challenge to us.”
She, appealed to well-meaning organisations and individuals to support, by purchasing the machine for the TTH to help in providing quality care for cancer patients above the age of 40 years.