Background: Breast cancer is rapidly becoming a growing public health problem in sub-Saharan Africa. In Ghana, breast cancer is the leading cause of death among women and the most common cause of hospital admissions. Despite the lack of a national cancer registry, GLOBOCAN estimated that in 2012, there were 2,260 diagnosed breast cancer and 1,021 deaths with age-standardized incidence and mortality rates of 25.6 and 11.7 per 100,000 women respectively in Ghana as compared to USA with age-standardized incidence and mortality rates of 92.9 and 14.9 respectively. Ghanaian women are disproportionately diagnosed at earlier age of 40-49 years with high-grade tumours that are more aggressive than White American women who are usually diagnosed around 60 years. Since early ages at onset of breast cancer result in highly associated disability and years of life lost, the earlier cancer is detected and treated, the higher the chances for long-term survival. However, despite aggressive campaigns to improve early presentation of symptoms for medical evaluation, for reasons that are still unclear, sixty per cent of Ghanaian women delay for at least 10 months before seeking any medical help.
Aim:Given that a woman's decision to seek help is made within personal, sociocultural, and healthcare system contexts, this study aims at improving our understanding on factors that facilitate or impede help seeking behaviour among Ghanaian women with breast symptoms.
Methods: Semi structured interviews with 12 symptomatic women who self detected symptoms. Thematic analysis was used to identify themes.
Results: Themes such as symptom appraisal, social support, and competing priorities that impede or facilitate help seeking for breast cancer symptoms among Ghanaian women are discussed.
Conclusions: Understanding facilitators and barriers to help seeking is vital for the implementation of successful interventions that encourage early presentation, diagnosis, and treatment of breast cancer.