East and Central African Journal of Surgery

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Knowledge and Practice of Breast Self Examination among Female Students in a Sub Saharan African University

R Obaikol, M Galukande, J Fualal


Background: Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in many parts of Africa. Facilities for screening and early detection are extremely limited yet early diagnosis improves survival. This study explored the practice of Breast Self Examination among female university students as a means of screening and early detection in a low resources environment.

Subjects and Methods: A cross sectional descriptive study at a Sub Saharan university. A call for volunteers to the study was made; a pretested standardised questionnaire was used for data collection. The process was limited to an interview and a physical examination. IRB approval was granted before the study began.

Results: A total of 320 participants volunteered, 314 were recruited. The majority were aged between 21 and 25. The range was between 19 to 31 years. There was a high awareness of Breast self Examination (BSE) of 81.5%, 30% had ever performed a BSE, 14% performed it regularly, 8% knew the correct monthly timing, the technique was accurately demonstrated by 1% of participants. 4.8 were found to have breast lumps.

Conclusion: There is a likelihood of most young women in the country practicing BSE inadequately. There is a need for widespread BSE campaigns emphasizing the correct technique and a need to evaluate BSE efficacy. The prevalence of breast lumps among young women attending this university was comparable to other community prevalence studies in this age group.

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