BREAST CANCER AWARENESS AND ATTITUDES TOWARDS PREVENTION STRATEGIES AMONG WOMEN AGED 18 YEARS AND ABOVE IN THE NDONGO COMMUNITY OF BUEA
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Background Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women globally including in Cameroon. Early diagnosis can improve prognosis and breast self-examination (BSE) may be a cost effective way to achieve this. However, timely access to diagnosis remains a challenge due to lack of specialized facilities. Most patients presents with advanced stages of the disease making management impossible.
This leads to an increase in breast cancer-related mortality. Little is known about knowledge and attitudes towards the prevention of breast cancer screening in Ndongo-Buea. This cross-sectional survey study was conducted in accordance to assess the current knowledge (awareness) and attitudes of women regarding breast cancer prevention strategies in the Ndongo Community, Buea.
The sample comprised of 100 females aged 18 and older. Method: This descriptive cross-sectional survey study was conducted in Ndongo, Buea South West Region of Cameroon. From and July 2017. Result: Data were collected using face-to-face interviews with a validated questionnaire a structured questionnaire was used to obtain information from 100 study participants regarding breast cancer awareness (knowledge) and practices.
Data were analysed using (Excel 2016) software and descriptive statistics were summarized in frequencies and percentages on pie and bar charts. One hundred women were studied, a great majority of respondents have heard of breast cancer; 71.5% knew the effects of breast cancer; 37.7% knew about the signs and symptoms. The most frequently reported cause and risk factor of breast cancer was alcohol intake (47%) and positive family history (15%) respectively.
The participants (41%) have never heard of breast self-examination (BSE) as an early detection method of breast cancer hence do not practice it. Conclusion: Lack of knowledge on early signs and symptoms of breast cancer was reported as the main challenge for breast cancer screening (73.8%). The frequently
reported source of information about this disease was television/radio programs (32%). This highlights the importance for continued awareness campaigns. Most of the women have heard of breast cancer but they lack adequate knowledge on its risk factors, causes, symptoms and effects. The majority of the women do not practice BSE due to lack of knowledge. Efforts to improve women’s knowledge on breast cancer is warranted.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women globally (Sehrawat et al., 2017; Azubuike et al., 2013). In 2020, there were 2.3 million women diagnosed with breast cancer and 685000 deaths globally. As of the end of 2020, it was reported that there were 7.8 million women alive who were diagnosed with breast cancer in the past 5 years, making it the world’s most prevalent cancer.
There are more loss disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) by women to breast cancer globally than any other type of cancer. Breast cancer occurs in every country of the world in women at any age after puberty but with increasing rates in later life (WHO, 2021). Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among females in the United States. Researchers across the globe are working to find new and improved ways to prevent, detect, and treat breast cancer.
Each year in the United States, about 255000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in women and about 2300 in men. About 42000 women die each year from breast cancer. Black women have a higher rate of death from cancer than white women (CDC, 2021).
The high mortality rate attributed to breast cancer in sub-Saharan Africa is partly due to lack of knowledge pertaining to risk factors, signs and symptoms such as breast lump, increase in size of the breast and an ulcer on the breast, and early detection methods among women as well as effects such as breast amputation and death are causing these women to seek medical treatment at late stages of the disease when it can no longer be reversed (Sehrawat et al., 2017; Dandash and Al-Mohaimeed, 2007).
In addition, patients, healthcare providers, and system mediated barriers have also been reported as reasons for late seeking of care among cancer patients (Morse et al., 2014). For example, there are very few places with specialized capacity for diagnosis of breast cancer as most of these cancer facilities and diagnostic centres are available only in tertiary hospitals making the services less accessible, especially in remote parts of the country.
To prevent and control breast cancer, several measures have been taken by the WHO, government health ministries, and non-government mental organizations (NGOs). The present study is important as it will bring to light the current level of knowledge on breast cancer among women in the Ndongo community of Buea.
It will also help in promoting early detection and management of breast cancer in these communities by helping both central and local government authorities and NGOs in understanding where exactly to allocate resources in matters pertaining to breast cancer awareness and practices among women especially in these communities. This study aimed to describe the awareness, attitudes towards prevention of breast cancer among women aged 18 years and above in the Ndongo community of Buea, South West Region of Cameroon.
1.2 Problem Statement
Breast cancer is the most common malignancy in women. It is often characterized by a lack of early symptoms, which results in late detection of the disease. Detection at advanced stages of the disease implies the treatment is more difficult and uncertain. Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women globally including in Cameroon.
However, timely access to diagnosis remains a challenge due to the lack of specialized facilities. Most patients present with advanced stages of the disease making management impossible. This leads to an increase in breast cancer-related mortality. Like many other women in the developing world, the practice of breast cancer screening among Cameroonian women is unsatisfactory (Nsagha et al., 2012).
As a result, many cases are diagnosed at advanced stages leading to poor outcomes including mortalities. An understanding of the awareness and predictors of breast examination is an important first step that may guide the design of interventions aimed at raising awareness across the general population. This study aimed to explore the awareness, attitudes, towards preventive measures of breast cancer among women in the Ndongo community.
Breast cancer (BC) is the leading cancer among women in Cameroon accounting for 27% of all cancers among women. Factors that make the policymakers and public health system worried are the raising incidence of breast cancer in Cameroon and more importantly high death rates among breast cancer patients.
One of the leading causes of high breast cancer deaths is lack of awareness and screening leading to the late presentation at an advanced stage. Therefore, the current research aimed to understand the knowledge of breast cancer and risk factors among women in the Buea Health District.
1.4 Research Questions
What do women aged 18 years and above know with regards to breast cancer in the Buea Health District?
What are the attitudes of women aged 18 years and above towards breast cancer screening and diagnosis?
What knowledge do women have on prevention?