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Open Access Research article

Knowledge of risk factors, beliefs and practices of female healthcare professionals towards breast cancer in a tertiary institution in Lagos, Nigeria

Nasiru A Ibrahim1* and Olumuyiwa O Odusanya2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Surgery, Lagos State University College of Medicine and Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria

2 Department of Community Health and Primary Health Care, Lagos State University College of Medicine and Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria

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BMC Cancer 2009, 9:76  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-76

Published: 4 March 2009

Abstract

Background

Breast cancer is the leading female malignancy in Nigeria. Screening for early detection has led to reduction in mortality from the disease. It is known that attitudes of physicians and motivation by community nurses influence uptake of screening methods by women. This study aims to investigate knowledge of breast cancer risk factors, beliefs about treatment and practice of screening methods among a cohort of female healthcare professionals in Lagos, Nigeria.

Methods

A cross-sectional study was conducted using a self-administered questionnaire to assess the knowledge of breast cancer risk factors, beliefs about treatment and practice of screening methods among 207 female doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals working in a university teaching hospital in Lagos, Nigeria. Stratified random sampling method was employed. Chi square test, analysis of variance and Mantel-Haenszel test were performed in data analysis using SPSS v10.0 and Epi Info version 6 statistical packages.

Results

Female doctors obtained a mean knowledge score of 74% and were the only professional group that had satisfactory knowledge of risk factors. Majority (86%) believed that early breast cancer is curable while half of participants believed that prayer can make breast cancer disappear from the affected breast. Eighty three percent practice breast self-examination (BSE) once a month and only 8% have ever had a mammogram. Age, knowledge of risk factors, profession and beliefs were not significantly associated with rate of BSE in this study.

Conclusion

Results from this study suggest the need for continuing medical education programmes aimed at improving knowledge of breast cancer among female healthcare providers other than doctors.