Level of Awareness of Cervical and Breast Cancer Risk Factors and Safe Practices among College Teachers of Different States in India: Do Awareness Programmes Have an Impact on Adoption of Safe Practices?


Background: Breast and cervical cancers are the most common causes of cancer mortality among womenin India, but actually they are largely preventable diseases. Although early detection is the only way to reducemorbidity and mortality, there are limited data on breast and cervical cancer knowledge, safe practices andattitudes of teachers in India. The purpose of this study is to assess the level of awareness and impact ofawareness programs in adoption of safe practices in prevention and early detection. Materials and
Methods:This assessment was part of a pink chain campaign on cancer awareness. During cancer awareness events in2011 at various women colleges in different parts in India, a pre-test related to cervical cancer and breast cancerwas followed by an awareness program. Post-tests using the same questionnaire were conducted at the end of theinteractive session, at 6 months and 1 year.
Results: A total of 156 out of 182 teachers participated in the study(overall response rate was 85.7 %). Mean age of the study population was 42.4 years (range- 28-59 yrs). Therewas a significant increase in level of knowledge regarding cervical and breast cancer at 6 months and this wassustained at 1 year. Adoption of breast self examination (BSE) was significantly more frequent in comparisonto CBE, mammography and the Pap test. Magazines and newspapers were sources for knowledge regardingscreening tests for breast cancer in more than 60% of teachers where as more than 75% were educated by doctorsregarding the Pap test. Post awareness at 6 months and 1 year, there was a significant change in alcohol andsmoking habits. Major reasons for not doing screening test were found to be ignorance (50%), lethargic attitude(44.8%) and lack of time (34.6%).
Conclusions: Level of knowledge of breast cancer risk factors, symptomsand screening methods was high as compared to cervical cancer. There was a significant increase in level ofknowledge regarding cervical and breast cancer at 6 months and this was sustained at 1 year. Adoption of BSEwas significantly greater in comparison to CBE, mammography and the Pap test. To inculcate safe practices inlifestyle of people, awareness programmes such as pink chain campaign should be conducted more widely andfrequently.