Worship’s Aid writes: Breast Cancer awareness amidst Covid-19

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The emergence of the coronavirus has disrupted other facets of healthcare awareness and delivery. Statistics confirmed by the world health organization shows that about 2.3 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer and about 685,000 deaths were recorded globally in the year 2020.

Whilst the month of October is dedicated to breast cancer awareness, the Worships Aid Foundation’s in partnership with various institutions and organizations will champion breast health awareness, breast cancer awareness and breast cancer screening. Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women worldwide and by extension, understanding the roadmap to breast health and early detection are key to mitigating the adverse consequences and malignancy.

Age, family history, inherited genes or gender cannot be changed but what is important as far as breast cancer is concerned is the variable associated with the chance of increased breast cancer. Some of these variables are;

1. Being physically active. Physical activity is shown to have an inverse relationship to breast cancer risk. Several biological mechanisms have supported the protective effect of physical activity on breast cancer which includes effects on the immune, endogenous sex steroid hormone production, and antioxidant system. It is recommended that most healthy adults should aim for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly, plus
strength training at least twice a week.

2. Limiting alcohol. Drinking excessive alcohol increases the risk of developing breast cancer. The general recommendation, based on research on the effect of alcohol on breast cancer risk, is to limit oneself to no more than one drink a day, as even small amounts increase risk.

3. Maintaining a healthy weight. Maintaining a healthy weight is essential.

4. Breastfeeding. Breast-feeding might play a role in breast cancer prevention. The longer you breastfeed, the greater the protective effect.

5. Limiting postmenopausal hormone therapy. A combination of hormone therapy may increase the risk of breast cancer.

Breast cancer awareness was created to inform, educate and persuade individuals about the cause and the visible symptoms of the disease. In October, breast cancer awareness is intensified to reduce stigmatization and get as many people as possible in raising funds to support life-saving research and life-changing support, a clear example is funds raised to buy a mammogram, the machine used in checking breast cancer. Amid a pandemic, large scores of people are at risk of developing breast cancer and its imperative, breast cancer screening be given a space in our healthcare dispensation and delivery

Whilst cancer screening is integral to cancer control and prevention, the Covid-19 pandemic, screening has either been cancelled or postponed, leaving a significant number of patients without access to recommended healthcare services. This disruption in cancer care and breast cancer awareness has a significant impact on patients, healthcare practitioners and health systems.

There should be synergistic collaborations between patients, healthcare practitioners and healthcare systems to collectively deliver holistic and efficient healthcare to all people of ill health. Breast cancer awareness is highly important to educate and inform people of the disease, by regularly checking through screening or personal exercise to detect breast cancer which can be treated to prevent unwanted death of loved ones.

Like many other women in developing countries, breast cancer screening among women is
unsatisfactory. As a result, many cases are diagnosed at advanced stages leading to poor outcomes including mortalities. An understanding of the awareness and predictors of breast examination is an important first step that guides the design of interventions aimed at raising awareness across the country and even to the remote parts of the world. Breast cancer screening, especially with mammography, has been recommended for many decades and yet there’s awareness on the necessity to intensify the awareness campaign and various bodies to support efforts of screening programs to decrease the devastating consequences on the general populace.

In an article published on the Ministry of Health’s website, ‘a total of 2000 Ghanaian women were diagnosed in 2012 with breast cancer.’ The table below depicts the estimated trend of breast cancer from
2012, 2018 through to 2040.

Studies also suggest minimal positive effect of the breast cancer awareness due to the failure to intensify the awareness to the corners of the country and most people in the rural areas have absolutely less knowledge on breast cancer and its attendant screening options.

In conclusion, cancer and more specifically breast cancer are one of the major issues affecting women worldwide and amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the must be an intensified awareness and a reimagined healthcare system to accommodate the diverse health conditions and also, take steps to salvage the dire consequences of breast cancer. Although breast cancer awareness is helping, there is deficit knowledge on it and thus, there is a need to include men in breast cancer education campaigns and also, interactive breast examination training can be organized at various tertiary institutions, workplaces using the
knowledge of health professionals.

SourceABC News

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