Waruiru Mburu, MPH

Nominated From: University of Minnesota

Research Site: KNUST

Research Area: Breast cancer

Primary Mentors: Beth Virnig and Shalini Kulasingam

Research Project

A study on breast cancer incidence patterns and pathway to breast cancer care among women in Ghana

In recent years, it has become clearer that cancer is an important problem faced by low and middle-income countries (LMIC): 57% of cancer cases and 67% of cancer related deaths now occur in LMICs. Breast cancer represents 25% of the total cancer burden in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) making it the most common cancer and leading cause of cancer deaths among women in SSA. Several studies have characterized breast cancer in Ghana and concluded that patients tend to be younger than patients in other parts of the world such as Europe and US. Our first aim will assess factors explaining this incidence pattern. In addition, most breast cancer patients in Ghana are diagnosed with advanced metastatic disease and consequently have low survival rates. However, very few studies in Ghana have specifically assessed factors associated with delay in seeking care after symptom detection. Our second aim will assess the pathway to breast cancer care among women in Ghana from symptom detection to treatment and factors impeding and/or facilitating transition between the different pathway intervals.

Research Significance

In the next 30 years, the lifetime risk of cancer in SSA will increase by 50-60%. Understanding cancer incidence patterns in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is key in developing national policies regarding screening and treatment. In addition, understanding factors associated with delay in seeking breast cancer care is essential since delay of 3-6 months between symptom detection and seeking care is associated with significantly lower survival.

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