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Background: Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women in Morocco. Screening for early detection has led to reduction in mortality from the disease. It is known that female healthcare professionals have greater influence on women's positive perception of breast cancer and motivation to practice screening methods for early detection of the disease. 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 Morocco. 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 136 female doctors and nurses working in the university hospital of Rabat, Morocco. Stratified random sampling method was employed. Chi square test, analysis of variance and Mantel-Haenszel test were performed in data analysis using SPSS v19.0. Results: Female doctors were the only professional group that had satisfactory knowledge of risk factors while the nurses had an unsatisfactory knowledge with a mean score of 43%. A half of participants believed that that herbal therapy can cure breast cancer. 75% practice breast self-examination once a month and only 15% have ever had a mammogram. Age, profession and beliefs were not significantly associated with rate of BSE in this study; however this rate is influenced by knowledge of breast cancer risk factors. Conclusion: Results from this study suggest the need for continuing medical education programs aimed at improving knowledge of breast cancer among the nurses.
Key words: Breast cancer, knowledge risk factors, beliefs, breast self examination, mammogram, healthcare professionals