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Awareness of breast cancer and breast self-examination among female undergraduate students in a higher teachers training college in Cameroon

Carlson-Babila Sama
Bonaventure Dzekem
Jules Kehbila
Cyril Jabea Ekabe
Brice Vofo
Naomi Liteba Abua
Therence Nwana Dingana
Fru Angwafo III


Introduction: The incidence of breast cancer (BCa) in Cameroon is on the rise and accounts for a leading cause of mortality. An understanding of the knowledge and practices on breast cancer and breast self-examination (BSE) among teachers are important first steps which will guide the designing of interventions aimed at raising awareness across the general population. Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study in April 2016 involving 345 consenting female undergraduate students in the Higher Teachers Training College, Bambili, Cameroon. Data was collected using a pretested self-administered questionnaire and analysed using descriptive methods. Results: The mean age of the respondents was 22.5±3.2years and a vast majority (n = 304, 88.1%) had heard about BCa primarily from the television/radio (n=196, 64.5%). Overall, less than a quarter (n=65, 21.4%) of respondents who had heard about BCa had sufficient knowledge on its risk factors and signs/symptoms. A plurality (53.3%) thought BCa can be prevented via vaccination while over a third (38.7%) opined that BCa can be treated spiritually. Less than half (47%) of respondents who had heard about BCa had heard about BSE amongst which only 55 (38.5%) had ever practiced it. Conclusion: Though most students are aware of the existence of breast cancer, their overall knowledge on its risk factors and clinical presentation is insufficient with a concomitant low practice of BSE. These highlighted gaps warrants intensification of sensitization campaigns and educational programmes in order to raise knowledge levels and enhance prevention strategies that would aid in reducing the burden of breast cancer in Cameroon.