A BREAST pathologist, Dr (Mrs) Beatrice Wiafe Addai, has cautioned men against the belief that breast cancer affects only females.
She said the incidence of the disease among males in the country and other parts of the world was increasing, with the rate jumping to three per cent from the previous one per cent.
She has consequently called on men to present themselves for screening to ensure early detection and treatment.
Dr Wiafe Addai, who was speaking at the launch of the one-month national breast cancer awareness programme of the Breast Care International (BCI) at Manso Nkwanta in the Ashanti Region last Thursday, said ignorance of the disease was dangerous as it could kill.
BCI is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in Kumasi which has Dr (Mrs) Wiafe Addai, who is also the Chief Executive of the Peace and Love Hospital, a private hospital at Oduom in Kumasi, as the President.
The organisation has set aside one month every year to undertake a massive educational campaign against breast cancer.
Over the years, little attention has been paid to breast cancer among men, partly because of the low incidence in the population, and the assumption that it is not a male disease.
Men possess a small amount of non-functioning breast tissue (breast tissue that cannot produce milk) that is concentrated in the area directly behind the nipple on the chest wall.
Like breast cancer in women, cancer of the male breast is the uncontrolled growth of the cells of this breast tissue.
Most cases of male breast cancer are detected in men between the ages of 60 and 70 but the lower age groups are also at risk.
Dr Wiafe Addai discounted claims in certain circles that breast cancer was caused by evil spirits, stressing that “such belief has sent many people to their graves.”
She stated that the cause of the disease was medically unknown but the risk factors were known.
She also dismissed fears that males who sucked the breasts of their female partners stood the danger of contracting the disease.
The BCI president commended the government for covering breast cancer and cervical cancer with the National Health Insurance Scheme.
She said the theme for the awareness programme: “Early Detection, Awareness Creation”, was chosen because it was a sure way of checking the spread of the disease.
The Deputy Ashanti Regional Minister, Ms Anima Wilson, asked people suffering from the disease not to feel shy of seeing the doctor.
She commended Dr Addai and the BCI for the initiative to send the message on the disease to even the remotest parts of the country.
Other speakers at the function included the Chief Executive of Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly, Mr Samuel Sarpong, the District Chief Executive of Amansie West, Mr Oti Prempeh, and the Omanhene of Manso-Nkwanta, Nana Bi-Kusi Appiah.