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Breast cancer and self-examination knowledge among Tanzanian women: implications for breast cancer health education

TA Ngoma
M Ngoma


The purpose of this study was to assess knowledge related to breast cancer and breast self-examination (BSE) among Tanzanian women. This hospital-based study was conducted at the Ocean Road Cancer Institute in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 130 women aged 20-69 years without a known history of breast cancer. Demographic data and subjects responses to a questionnaire addressing the knowledge of the women on breast anatomy and physiology; breast cancer causes; symptoms; breast self examination and treatment were recorded. Our results showed that correct scores ranged between 3% and 95.5% with a mean correct score of 36.1%. Since the average total correct scores fell below 50%, one might conclude that subjects possessed little knowledge related to breast cancer and BSE. However a closer look of the results showed that although correct and incorrect responses were dispersed throughout all content areas, the majority (80-90%) of subjects were more likely to correctly answer items assessing symptoms than any other subset of items but had knowledge deficits regarding when to get medical consultation. In this study, only 47% of subjects knew that they needed to see a doctor when they developed a breast lump. Few subjects correctly answered items assessing breast changes, breast cancer etiologic/risk factors, and BSE technique. The results highlight the need for breast cancer health education to Tanzanian women with an emphasis on breast changes, breast cancer and BSE technique.

Tanzania Health Research Bulletin Vol.6(2) 2004: 64-68