A specialist pediatrician at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital is urging what he describes as cancer consciousness among health professional to encourage early detection of the disease.

Dr. Lawrence Osei-Tutu says physicians in particular must pay attention to potential cancer conditions that come before them.

He wants cancer checks to be included in standard operation procedures and protocols of clinicians to avoid delayed diagnosis.

About 70 percent of all cancers reported at the Korle Bu and Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospitals get to the attention of health experts at advanced stages, with slim survival chances for patients.

Many cancer patients end up at prayer camps while others resort to herbalist and spiritualists for care.

Seven out of every ten children with cancer survive in developed countries. It is however the reverse in Ghana where only three out of 10 gets relief.

Each year, Korle Bu and Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospitals see, between them, 2,400 pediatric cancer cases; most of which are in advance stages.

Dr. Osei-Tutu blames delayed reporting and detection on both parents and clinicians wants clinicians to attend to every condition as a potential cancer case.

It takes at least, four months for pathologists to complete investigations into suspected cancer cells at Komfo Anokye Hospital, for instance.

Dr Osei-Tutu feels frustrated at what he describes intra-hospital delays which he wants reduced to save more lives.

“Cancer is time. Each time you wait; the cancer is growing and multiplying. You must get the diagnosis. You cannot guess. Somebody [pathologist] must look at the cells [the part of the human body] that you suspect the cancer is there and make the diagnosis for you. So the intra-hospital delays because of pressure on facilities; because of few trained personnel to deal with ability to diagnose because of running down of testing equipments for instance, all contribute to delays”. Frustrated Dr. Osei-Tutu explained.

Though 85 percent of childhood cancers are curable, most child patients reach the hospitals late to begin expensive treatments.

Between 1998 and 2014, 1, 332 children were diagnosed with cancer at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital.

About seventy per cent of them have died with the remaining 30 per cent completing treatment.

Specialist pediatrician advocates cancer-consciousness among cliniciansDr Osei-Tutu wants stakeholders collaboration intensified on interventions for changing people’s attitude and perception about cancer.

“Health personnel must know what it means to have a cancer and we must do advocacy among ourselves as health professionals to be able to recognize [cancer]. It is possible that the child with the fever is actually having Leukemia. There are cases where we blame a parent say you  didn’t bring your child early but there are clear cases where they went early and somebody[physician] missed it”.

In the wake of challenges, UK-based World Child Cancer, supported by the British Development Fund is assisting cancer patients financially in their treatment in effort to increase childhood cancer survival rate in Ghana.

With an aim to develop a network of pediatric oncology units in Ghana, the World Child Cancer hopes to among other things increase survival rates of childhood cancer,   raise awareness of childhood cancer and also reduce abandonment of treatment

Programme Manager, George Akyempim told a training workshop for journalists in Kumasi the organization is supporting Korle Bu and Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospitals and other satellite health facilities to effectively manage childhood cancer.

 

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