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.
METHODOLOGY: In-depth interviews were conducted among 36 male university students from the Management and Science University, Malaysia, selected by simple random sampling. The themes of the interview were: knowledge of male breast cancer and male breast self-examination, sources of knowledge and attitudes towards male BSE. The data obtained were classified into various categories and analyzed manually.
RESULTS: The majority of participants mentioned that there is a low possibility for males to get breast cancer. They also believed that the cause of breast cancer among men is due to the carcinogens from cigarettes. The majority of participants mentioned that they know about breast self-examination from the mass media and that the presence of a lump in the breast is the main symptom of breast cancer in men. The majority of participants mentioned that they encourage their family members to practice breast self-examination but considered that BSE is not important for men because they have a low probability of getting breast cancer.
CONCLUSIONS: Misconceptions regarding male breast cancer and breast self-examination among men still exist among male university students. Therefore special attention should be given to educate men about male breast cancer and male BSE.
METHODS: This cross sectional study was conducted among 250 Malaysian women. Data were collected using a self administrated questionnaire which included questions on socio-demographic data, knowledge of breast cancer and awareness of mammography.
RESULTS: Mean age of respondents was 28 ± 9.2 with 69.2% aged 18 to 29 years. The majority had heard about breast cancer (81.2%) and indicated books, magazines and brochures as their source of information (55.2%). However, most did not know about signs and symptoms of breast cancer and many of its risk factors. On multivariate analysis, significant predictors of breast cancer knowledge were age, race, marital status, level of education, occupation, family size and family history of other cancers (p<0.05). Fifty percent of women were aware of mammography, significant predictors being age, occupation, marital status and knowledge of breast cancer (p<0.05).
CONCLUSION: Most women were aware of breast cancer. However, the knowledge about signs and symptoms of breast cancer and awareness of mammography were inadequate. It is recommended that the level of knowledge should be raised among Malaysian women, particularly in the less educated young.