DESIGN: A qualitative interview study with thematic analysis of transcripts.
PARTICIPANTS: 67 patients with self-discovered breast symptoms were included in the analysis. Of these, 36% were of Malay ethnicity, 39% were Chinese and 25% Indian, with an average age of 58 years (range 24-82 years). The number of women diagnosed at early stages of cancer almost equalled those at advanced stages. Approximately three-quarters presented with a painless lump, one-quarter experienced a painful lump and 10% had atypical symptoms.
SETTING: University hospital setting in Singapore and Malaysia.
RESULTS: Patients revealed barriers to early presentation not previously reported: the poor quality of online website information about breast symptoms, financial issues and the negative influence of relatives in both countries, while perceived poor quality of care and services in state-run hospitals and misdiagnosis by healthcare professionals were reported in Malaysia. The pattern of presentation by ethnicity remained unchanged where more Malay delayed help-seeking and had more advanced cancer compared to Chinese and Indian patients.
CONCLUSIONS: There are few differences in the pattern of presentation and in the reported barriers to seek medical care after symptom discovery between Singapore and Malaysia despite their differing economic status. Strategies to reduce delayed presentation are: a need to improve knowledge of disease, symptoms and causes, quality of care and services, and quality of online information; and addressing fear of diagnosis, treatment and hospitalisation, with more effort focused on the Malay ethnic group. Training is needed to avoid missed diagnoses and other factors contributing to delay among health professionals.
METHODS: A single-blind randomized controlled trial was carried out among 370 female undergraduate students from January 2011 to April 2012 in two selected public universities in Malaysia. Participants were randomized to either the intervention group or the control group. The educational program was delivered to the intervention group. The outcome measures were assessed at baseline, 6, and 12 months after implementing the health educational program. Chi-square, independent samples t-test and two-way repeated measures ANOVA (GLM) were conducted in the course of the data analyses.
RESULTS: Mean scores of knowledge on breast cancer (p<0.003), knowledge on breast self examination (p<0.001), benefits of BSE (p<0.00), barrier of BSE (0.01) and confidence of BSE practice (p<0.00) in the intervention group had significant differences in comparison with those of the control group 6 and 12 months after the intervention. Also, among those who never practiced BSE at baseline, frequency of BSE practice increased 6 and 12 months after the intervention (p<0.05).
CONCLUSION: The Breast Health Awareness program based on health the belief model had a positive effect on knowledge of breast cancer and breast self-examination and practice of BSE among females in Malaysia.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: The ANZCTR clinical trial registry ( ACTRN12616000831482 ), retrospectively registered on Jun 23, 2016 in ANZCTR.org.au.