KATH takes the lead in cancer management as Ghana’s first ever cancer registry make impact

Front view of the Accident and Emergency Center, Komfo      Anokye Teaching Hospital

Ghana’s first ever cancer registry, the Kumasi Cancer Registry located at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), has been making a positive impact three years after its establishment.

Establishment in 2012, the maiden registry has been facilitating data collection and effective management of the disease since 2012.

Operations of the registry became official recently after it went through rigorous tests and certifications though work started in 2012.

The registry is on the threshold of becoming a research center for both medical professionals and academics to access data to influence health policies in Kumasi.

As a population-based Kumasi Cancer Registry, it solely captures all cancer data from Kumasi which has a population of over 2million people to help calculate cancer incidents.

As expected, the registry facilitates the collation of the number of new cases diagnosed in a year and prevalence of the disease in the metropolis.

Although Ghana’s President John Mahama two years ago announced the establishment of a National Cancer Registry to provide care caregivers opportunity to improve services using adequate and reliable data, that is yet to happen.

Experts at the Public Health Directorate as well as other specialists from oncology and other fields at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital started what has become the most important aspect of cancer care management

Statistics available at the registry reveal 1, 002 cases of cancer were recorded in medical facilities in Kumasi between 2012 and 2014. Kumasi has a population of approximately 2 million people.

female cases

Liver, prostate and head cancers top infection among men while breast, cervical and ovarian cancers lead the chart in women.

Last year figures represent 49 per cent increase with breast, cervical and liver cancers topping the list in both males and females.

Sixty per cent  of cancer patients in the metropolis are between the active working ages of 45 and 59.

The Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Kumasi South Hospital, Suntreso Government Hospital were among several public health facilities that serve as source of cancer cases for the registry.

Over 6 leading laboratories, including Medilab and Soyuz serve cancer registry.

Late response affects cancer management in Kumasi

Top 10 female cancers graph

Early detection and management of cancers is said to save the lives of about 90% of patients.

But ironically, at least, 70% of cases reported at health facilities in the metropolis are at the advanced stage, leading to an increase in cancer-related deaths.

Experts say managing cancer in  stage 3 or 4 gives patients with less hope of survival to patients.

Patients have over the years resorted either to traditional medicines or prayer camps for treatment. They end up at the hospital with either stage 3 or 4 of cancer.

But despite working with limited resources in temporal office it shares with other departments, the Kumasi Cancer Registry’s research article, titled “Cancer Incidence in Ghana, 2012: evidence from a population-based cancer registry” was published in the famous London-based BioMed Central journal.(http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2407/14/362)

Medical Director at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Dr. Baffuor Awuah is the brain behind the registry.

He is already elated at the gains made so far.

“If you know more women are developing breast cancer; then as a metropolis, if we are allocating our resources, where do we put our money as far as early detection, diagnosis and management is concern? If more women are developing [cervical cancer] this; how do we intensify our screening. In the same way the treatment we are given them, how do we make sure they are effective? If you go to the registry and look at the outcome and the treatment we are given them, you can also assess yourself. Following-up on those who have survived cancers will also lead you to another realm of study”. Dr. Baffuor Awuah explained.

Basis of diagnosis includes haematological investigation, ultrasonography and tumour markers.

Basic diagnosis include haematological investigation,      ultrasonography and tumour markers

Dr. Baffuor Awuah is also unhappy patients have taken little or no advantage of various interventions available to prevent and manage the disease because most cancer cases get to hospitals late.

 He wants public perception about cancer changed.

“All cancers that come, they were coming at advanced stage. More than 70% come with stage 3; stage 4. One thing about cancer is; when it is starting; no matter how big it is, it is not painful. You don’t see blood or anything. And in our society, something showing blood, pain that is the time the person will go to hospital.

“You have a patient and he gets to a prayer camp because it is not painful or he is not breeding, the suspicion is that person has been bewitched or something till it gets to the last hour. So we must begin to do a reverse tracing”, Dr Baffuor Awuah said.