Early Cancer Medical Treatment Saves Lives

By Precious Gaye (pgaye2042@gmail.com)

A woman’s life can be saved if one seeks medical treatment early when a lump (knot) has been discovered in her breast. Early detection, seek quality health care services can save her life.
Medical reports say if you see a cancerous lump in your breast, that lump or knot had begun to grow around 5 to 10 years, or several decades before it is detected.

At an early stage of Breast Cancer, cancerous cells have to divide thirty times before it can be felt; in most breast cancer cases, each cell division takes one to two months. Even at the twenty eight cell divisions, neither you nor your doctor can detect it by hand. Against this backdrop, any delay in seeking quality medical treatment poses a huge risk.

One of the two pathologists in Liberia at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center, Mearck trained Onco-pathologist Dr. Benedict Kolee, has reiterated that most of the cases of (breast) cancer brought to JFK are patients who are already in stage IV. He passionately called on the public to change their mindset in response to their health care in this regard.

In his words:

“The belief system of most Liberians, their mindset, what we want them to do is to also seek quality medical care first.”

“You see the hands of God are not short, so when people say we have to take the person to the prayer camp, that they have to be in the Church, you are limiting God,”

the Liberian Onco-pathologist added.

Dr. Kolee noted that quality cancer care can be given at the John F. Kennedy Hospital and Tappita Hosital located in Montserrado and Nimba counties, respectively. His passionate appeal comes at this time when the JFK receives mostly patients with stage IV breast cancer even pre and post Covid period.He explains that the hospital received cases where the patient’s affected breast is almost all sored, leaving their care givers with little or no option for treatment.

It is fortunate that Liberia has the first cancer specific organization founded in 1977; the Liberian Cancer Society is a non-government organization that works to create awareness and educate the public. Its Director, Madam Dana Hilton Van-Ee has pointed out that breast cancer is not restricted to women.

Cancer Statistics in Liberia

Studies have shown that cancer is on the increase in Liberia, with breast cancer being the second most prevalent after cervical cancer. The Liberia National Cancer Registry record shows a total of six hundred forty four (644) persons have already being diagnosed with cancer within the first six months of 2021. Authorities are still compiling figures for the third and fourth quarters of the year.

The figure above was derived from the total number of recorded cases at six hospitals within the country, namely: J.F.K., Redemption, ELWA, Hope of Women International Center, SDA Cooper and J.J. Dosen Hospitals. At least twenty one (21) of these cases are children. Unlike a year ago, the record shows five hundred and ninety two (592) persons were diagnosed of cancer, with 38 cases being diagnosed in children.

Again, the total number of cases were collected from the six hospitals earlier mentioned. Some Health authorities belief that the low turnout in 2020 could be attributed to the fear patients harbor in seeking treatment at a hospital during the covid-19 pandemic. Additionally, prostate, liver Kaposi Sarcomo and Burkitts Lymphoma are common cases also diagnosed within the country.

National Cancer Institute Estimation

Recently the National Cancer Institute, with its headquarters in the United States of America, projected a worldwide increase in cancer deaths by 64%, which is from 9.96 million to 16.3 million within nineteen (19) years.

Cancer Cells Grades and Stages

Cancer cells are abnormal cells growth, the grade describes what the cells look like under the microscope. The lower grade means the slow-growing cancer, and a high grade shows that the cancer is growing faster.

Grade I – shows cells that resemble normal cells and are not rapidly growing. On the other hand grade II shows cells that don’t look like normal cells. Grade III cells look abnormal and may grow or spread more aggressively.

Stage 0 and 1 describe that the cancer is small and has not spread while stage II means that the cancer has grown, but has not spread. Stage III means that the cancer is larger and has spread to surrounding tissues and the lymph nor (under the armpits). Finally, stage IV means that the cancer cells have spread to one of the body’s organs. It is also known as metastatic cancer.

By drawing attention to this information, I emphasizes the seriousness of the disease due to lack of knowledge about this condition in some quarters and the huge upheaval it causes in the lives of women individually and their families. The more advance the decease becomes, the chances for survival decrease.

Moving Forward
  • Does every woman/girl in Liberia know that any female or male could develop ‘cancer or a cancerous breast lump (Knot)?
  • Do people also know that breast cancer is not a death sentence when identified early?

It is important however, that when individuals communicate the basic facts regularly, there is a need to celebrate and commemorate global celebrations in terms of health and the rest. And this could yield the desired result in the fight toward awareness and early medical treatment, if we focus on all the means possible and effective to inform the household, community and society at large not only as a group. Again it is a call to every individual.

Affordable treatment is also a key aspect in this fight that unite us all, given that the least cost for the breast cancer detection services range from 10USD or 1,700LD for Find Needle Assessment (FNA) and biopsy 45,00USD/7,650LD equivalent at the JFK Hospital located in Monrovia. The SOS clinic charges 50.00US, which is equivalent to LD8,000 per breast for a mammogram. Cancer can be an emotional experience; be convicted to be a part of a support group psychologically, financially and more. We can all join the fight against Cancer.


Contributed by Precious Gaye

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