Practicing breast self-examination among women attending primary health care in Kuwait
Background: Despite the benefits associated with breast self-examination (BSE), few women perform it and many do not even know how to perform it.
Objectives: The purpose of this study was to identify the proportion of women practicing BSE, factors that could affect its performance and explore women’s awareness about its practice steps.
Methods: The study design can be differentiated into two components. The first was a crosssectional survey to determine the prevalence of BSE. Recruitment efforts resulted in 510 women. BSE was practiced by 109. The second component of the study was a case-control study to identify factors associated with BSE, whereas practicing subjects (control) were compared with a randomly selected similar number of non-practicing females (cases).
Results: The prevalence of BSE was 21%. Most of the socio-demographic variables have no significant effect on the practice of BSE. Practicing women had sufficient level of knowledge about BSE, clinical breast examination, and mammography. They believed significantly that bloody discharge from the nipple, presence of masses in the breasts, abnormal arm swelling, nipple retraction and discoloration of the breast were signs and symptoms of breast cancer. About 35% of practicing women in the current study performed correctly 66 steps out of 12 steps.
Conclusion: Only 21% of women attending PHC had ever practiced BSE. Even a high proportion of them were not aware of the correct steps of the procedure. Health education programs are essential to encourage and improve women’s practice of BSE.