Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye (2nd from right), Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, addressing the media.
Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye (2nd from right), Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, addressing the media.

Adults sucking breast not protection against breast cancer — GHS

The Ghana Health Service has described as a myth the notion that when men suck on the breast it offers the woman some protection against breast cancer.

It has clarified that it is the process of breast milk production and secretion precipitated by a baby suckling a mother’s breast that helps to reduce the mother’s vulnerability to breast cancer.

Speaking at a press conference as part of activities marking this year’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Accra yesterday, the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, said the suckling of the breast by any other but a baby for breast milk, did not protect against or cause breast cancer.

The WHO has designated October as the breast cancer awareness month to heighten awareness and garner support to increase access to quality services.

This year’s theme is: “Working together to close the cancer care gap."

Diagnosing challenge

While assuring the public that breast cancer was not a death sentence because it was treatable when detected early,  Dr Kuma-Aboagye’s concern was the lack of adequate capacity of health professionals to help detect the condition early.

He said the low capacity among health professionals, particularly at the primary level of care to diagnose breast cancer early, had been identified as a major challenge.

To improve the situation, the GHS, among other initiatives, was enhancing the capacity of healthcare professionals along all the levels of care on the process of detecting breast cancer.

He said that formed part of a national strategy to enhance early detection, ensure quality of care and increase access to care.

“Specifically, we have deepened the training and capacity development of our community health workers and other cadres in clinical breast examination; Integrated breast and cervical cancer screening services, and in collaboration with the School Health Education Programme, created awareness and sensitisation at the community level,” he said.

Dr Kuma-Aboagye said the strategy was to bridge that access gap and boost prevention, among others.


The Director-General of the GHS stated that prevention was hinged on early detection through frequent screening and reducing of one's risk to the disease through healthy lifestyle.

He said although the causes were still unknown, alcohol use, tobacco use, ageing, family history and obesity, especially during menopause, increased a person's vulnerability to breast cancer.

“Female gender is the strongest breast cancer risk factor.

Approximately 0.5-1 per cent of breast cancers occur in men,” he said.

Dr Kuma-Aboagye said good practices including eating healthily, excising and breastfeeding provided some protection against the disease.

“In Ghana, breast cancer has a very high burden and is the leading type among women although it affects men too,” he said, and appealed to all women to take clinical breast examinations seriously, advising them to go for checks at least every month.

National intervention

Dr Kuma-Aboagye said the GHS was working to improve access to care with strategies such as the Networks of Practice, explaining that the Networks of Practice concept would ensure that early detection at the sub district was improved, patients were linked to care, and disease outcomes were improved.

 We, however, cannot do these alone.

“As no one can address the burden of breast cancer alone, there is the need for stakeholders such as survivors, healthcare providers, academia, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society organisations (CSOs) to collectively work towards prevention and improving disease outcomes,“ he stressed.

He commended the media for their role in educating the general public on the risk factors and encouraged the media to continue in that regard.

“Most importantly, the media’s time-tested role in educating the public on risk factors such as genetic mutations, family history of breast and ovarian cancers, physical inactivity, obesity and consumption of alcohol has become even more crucial.

“Your unwavering support over the years in providing various channels to spread the message of breast cancer is most appreciated. 

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