Breast cancer occurrences in developing countries are gradually matching caucasian levels. Since early detection is linked to reductions in morbidities and mortality, affordable screening techniques like breast self-examination (BSE) becomes imperative in these resource-limited economies. Ascertaining the Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices (KAP) of breast cancers and BSE among young adult females will help provide baseline information for early and targeted interventions.
A cross sectional survey involving 432 female senior secondary school students in Otuocha Educational Zone of Anambra State, Nigeria.
A total of 321(74.3%) valid questionnaires were returned. Mean age was 16.79+/-1.48 years. Even though 84.6% and 55.2% had respectively heard about breast cancer and BSE, and the ‘General Knowledge’ of breast cancer was high (75.2%), specifics on ‘Risk Factors’ (41.5%) and ‘Symptoms’ (46.1%) were poor.
Knowledge on correct BSE ‘Techniques’ was 52.9%, but few know when to commence (43.1%), the right frequency (31.5%), or the right timing (24.6%). A large majority (73.6%) had positive attitudes, but only 6.1% practice it monthly, while 55.3% had never done it at all. No significant predictors of Knowledge and Practice of BSE was identified.
Health campaigns on BSE and breast cancers should provide specific details on techniques, risk factors and symptoms, while emphasizing on the right methods, timing and frequency. The positive attitudes identified raise optimism that health interventions would be effective and can have long term benefits. If possible, BSE and breast cancer teachings should be included in the secondary school academic curricula of resource-limited countries.
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