Knowledge and Awareness about Breast Cancer and its Early Symptoms among Medical and Non-Medical Students of Southern Punjab, Pakistan


Breast cancer is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality globally but has an even more significant impactin developing countries. Pakistan has the highest prevalence among Asian countries. A general lack of publicawareness regarding the disease often results in late diagnosis and poor treatment outcomes. The literacy rate ofthe Southern Punjab (Pakistan) is low compared to its Northern part. It is therefore vital that university studentsand especially medical students develop a sound knowledge about the disease so that they can spread awarenessto others who may be less educated. This study therefore considers current knowledge and understanding aboutthe early signs of breast cancer amongst a study group of medical and non-medical university students of theSouthern Punjab, Pakistan. A cross-sectional descriptive analysis of the university students was carried outusing a self-administered questionnaire to assess their awareness of breast cancer from March to May 2014. Atotal of 566 students participated in this study, out of which 326 were non-medical and 240 were from a medicaldiscipline. Statistical analysis was carried out using Graph Pad Prism Version 5 with a significance level setat p<0.05. The mean age of the non medical and medical participants was 23 (SD 2.1) and 22 (SD 1.3) years,respectively. Less than 35% students were aware of the early warning signs of the breast cancer development.Knowledge of medical students about risk factors was significantly better than the non medical ones, but on thewhole was insufficient. Our study indicated that knowledge regarding breast cancer was generally insufficientamongst the majority of the university students (75% non-medical and 55% medical) of Southern Punjab,Pakistan. This study highlights the need to formulate an awareness campaign and to organize conferences topromote breast cancer awareness among students in this region.