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African Cancer Organisation, Accra, Ghana

Paul Opoku Agyemang
Background: African Cancer Organisation (ACO) seeks to establish a Cancer Information
Service (CIS) Centre in Accra, Ghana. The CIS will offer information about cancer and support
services to cancer patients, families and friends, general public and health care professionals.
The whole idea is to promote primary prevention of cancer and early detection through
culturally sensitive and linguistically appropriate cancer information, awareness and education
programs. Detecting abnormal body change early means that if cancer is then diagnosed any
treatment may cure or well have a better outcome. The project will navigate people to
appropriate centres for screening, further diagnosis, management and support.
Objective: The goal of the project is to ensure that everyone living in Ghana who is eligible
has access to free and confidential cancer information service. The project will establish the
needed infrastructure and also build capacity of personnel required to provide cancer
information service to the public.
Methodology: Trained information specialists will provide a one-on-one interaction by either
telephone, e-mail, instant messaging or in person visit. The service will be free and
confidential. The project involves setting up an office, distribution of information, education
and communication materials to educate the public about cancer, its preventions, risk factors
associated with the disease, sign and symptoms of cancer, how cancer is diagnosed, treated
and life after cancer. ACO CIS, tailored to the socio-economic and cultural context, is to
ensure that cancer information is available to everyone who is eligible. This we believe will
help prevent people from getting exposed to avoidable cancer risk factors and also help
downstage cancers by early-detecting the disease at stages where cure is often possible,
which will ultimately help avert the currently prevailing high incidence of cancers in Ghana.
Conclusion: There is solid evidence that making cancer information available and diagnosing
it at an early stage will reduce deaths from cancer, and the success of interventions intended
to detect cancer at an early stage greatly depends on cancer education and awareness and
sensitivity to the needs, beliefs and unique circumstance of the target population. Although
much remains to be learned about cancer, enough is now known about the causes of cancer
and means of control for suitable intervention to have a significant impact. Most Africans
cannot currently access curative therapies, state-of-the-art surgery or expensive cancer drugs
that are the mainstay of cancer care in developed nations. Therefore, scaling up prevention
and early diagnosis will be the most cost-effective ways of dealing with cancer. ACO is by
this looking for partners with similar mandate to collaborate to establish and sustain
the CIS.
About ACO: ACO is dedicated to reducing the impact of cancer in Africa through the
provision of effective and feasible public awareness interventions aimed at reducing cancer
incidence, suffering and mortality. The vision of ACO is to increase awareness about primary
prevention and early detection in a bid to phase out the currently prevailing advanced stages
of cancers in Africa.
World Cancer Congress, Montreal, Canada, August 2012
Africa Organisation for Research and Training in Cancer Conference, Durban, South Africa, November 2013