• 1 Universiti Kuala Lumpur Royal College of Medicine Perak


Breast cancer is a major global health problem and the leading cause of death among women of
all ethnic backgrounds. In Malaysia the incidence of breast cancer among women is 1: 19. Around
5,000 Malaysian women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, most of them aged between
30 and 60 years where, nearly half of those affected are under 50-years of age. In Malaysia,
screening for breast cancer is mainly based on clinical examination, mammogram and ultrasound
studies for most of the population. Based on radiological investigations the patients are then
referred for Fine Needle Aspiration Cytology (FNAC) /or biopsy for final diagnosis. Most women
over 40 years of age undergo mammogram screening so there has been early detection of cancer
of breast in the older age group. Mammogram is not advised in younger age groups as lesions will
be difficult to identify in dense breasts. We did a cross sectional study among 139 rural women in
Perak. The participants were chosen randomly from the rural areas of different villages. We used
a pretested self-administered questionnaire. The questionnaire comprised of eight questions based
on knowledge of breast cancer and few more questions related to imaging of breast. The
questionnaire was distributed to women between the ages 20- 60 years of all three major ethnic
groups in Malaysia, namely Malays, Chinese and Indians. The mean age of the participants was
47.9. The Indians comprised of (59.7%) of participants. Malays (25.2%) and Chinese (15.1 %).
Just below half of the participants were of secondary educational level (44 .6%) Most of them
were married (63.3%). Almost half of them were employed (48.9%). The percentage of women
who had a family history of breast cancer accounted for 11.5%. Among the three major races the
Chinese had more screening done compared to the Malays and Indians (P value 0.003). 51.1% of
women showed poor knowledge of breast cancer and 19.4 % had no knowledge of cause of breast
cancer. Among the several reasons given for not having a mammogram, 40.8 % of participants
said that it was not advised. The major source of information was (TV, Magazines, papers) 63.4 %
and (Friends / Relatives) 30.6%.