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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Breast Self-Examination and breast cancer awareness in women in developing countries: a survey of women in Buea, Cameroon

Mary Atanga Bi Suh1, Julius Atashili2*, Eunice Asoh Fuh1 and Vivian Ayamba Eta1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Buea, Buea, Cameroon

2 Department of Public Health and Hygiene, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Buea, Buea, Cameroon

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BMC Research Notes 2012, 5:627  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-627

Published: 9 November 2012

Abstract

Background

Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer morbidity and mortality worldwide. In Cameroon, breast cancer causes as many as 10.7 deaths per 100,000 women making it the second cause of cancer mortality. Better documenting women’s knowledge and practices on breast cancer and breast self-exam (BSE) would be useful in the design of interventions aimed at preventing breast cancer. This study sought to 1. describe Cameroonian women’s knowledge of breast self-examination (BSE); 2. assess their impression on the practice of BSE and 3. describe their perceptions on the causes, risk factors and prevention of breast cancer.

Methods

A cross-sectional survey was conducted in a volunteer sample of 120 consenting women in Buea, Cameroon. Data were collected using a structured questionnaire self-administered by study participants.

Results

The sample was fairly educated with close to three quarters (70.83%) having completed high school. Nearly three quarters (74.17%) of participants had previously heard about BSE, however as many as 40% had never done a BSE. Although 95% of participants believed that breast cancer could be prevented, only 36.67% recognized breast examination as a prevention method. A substantial 13.33% thought that breast cancer could be prevented with a vaccine while 45% thought that dieting or exercising would prevent breast cancer. Similarly, 70% of participants thought that breast cancer could be treated, with 35.83% thinking that it could be treated medically while 34.17% thought it could be treated traditionally or spiritually.

Conclusions

The practice of BSE while perceived as being important is not frequent in these women in Buea, Cameroon. Health education campaigns are imperative to elucidate the public on the causes, risk factors and prevention of breast cancer. Further studies need to explore what interventions could be best used to improve the uptake and practice of BSE.

Keywords:
Breast cancer; Breast Self-Exam; Knowledge; Practices; Cameroon