INTRODUCTION: The etiology of breast cancer is still unknown and adequate primary prevention strategies or interventions are still not possible. Therefore, early detection remains the first priority and regular practice of breast self-examination (BSE) influences treatment, quality of life, survival, and prognosis of breast cancer patients.
OBJECTIVES: The objective of this study was to determine the practices and barriers towards breast self-examination among young Malaysian women.
METHODOLOGY: Cross-sectional study was conducted among 251 female students at the Management and Science University, Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia. Questionnaires were distributed at gathering places such as the university cafeteria, the university plaza, the Islamic center, and at the library. In addition, questionnaires were distributed in the lecture halls. The proposal of this study was approved by the Ethics and Research Committee of Management and Science University. Data was analysis using SPSS version 13, t-test was used to analyze the associated factors toward the practice of BSE.
RESULTS: A total number of 251 students participated in this study. The majority of them were older than 20 years old,of Malay racial origin, single and from urban areas (66.5%; 63.7%; 96%; 70.9% respectively). Regarding their lifestyle practices, the majority of participants do exercise, are non-smokers and do not drink alcohol (71.3%; 98.4%; 94.4% respectively). More than half of the study participants mentioned that they have practiced BSE (55.4%). Regarding the sources of information about BSE, the majority mentioned that radio and TV were their main sources of information (38.2%). Age, exercise and family history of cancer significantly influenced the practice of BSE (p = 0.045; p=0.002; p=0.017 respectively). Regarding the barriers to BSE, the majority who never practiced BSE mentioned that lack of knowledge, not having any symptoms, and being afraid of being diagnosed with breast cancer were the main barriers to practicing BSE (20.3%; 14.3%; 4.4% respectively).
CONCLUSION: More than half of the participants practiced BSE. Age, exercise and family history of cancer significantly influenced the practice of the BSE. Lack of knowledge, not having any symptoms and being afraid of being diagnosed with breast cancer were the main barriers to practicing BSE. There is an urgent need to develop a continuous awareness campaign among university students on the importance of performing BSE.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.