Programa de Pos-Graduacao em Saude Publica. Universidade Estadual da Paraiba (UEPB). Campina Grande, Paraiba, Brasil
Background: Breast cancer incidence and mortality rates are increasing in North-Eastern Brazil and the patients with the disease often presented at advanced stages. The present study was focused on identifying variables that affect women's frequency of breast self- examination (BSE) performance. Materials and Methods: Data on BSE, socio-economic parameters and risk factors for breast cancer were obtained from 417 women from a community in North-Eastern Brazil by a self-informant method. To identify independent variables that affect frequency of BSE, nominal logistic regression analysis was performed. Results: Of 417 women, 330 (79.3%) reported performing BSE. Compared to high-income women, BSE performance by low-income women every month was 7.69 (OD=0.130; CI 95%: 0.044- 0.0386; p=0.000) times lower. Women who did not live in a stable union performed BSE each month 2.73 (OD=0.366; CI 95%: 0.171-0.782; p=0.010) less often than those living in a stable union. BSE performance every month and every six months or every year by women with poor knowledge about risk factors for breast cancer was 3.195 (OD=0.313; CI 95%: 0.141- 0.695; p=0.004) times and 2.028 (OD=0.493; CI 95%: 0.248- 0.979; p=0.043) times lower, compared to women with good knowledge. Participants who had a close relative with cancer performed BSE every month and every six months or every year 2.132 (OD=0.469; CI 95%: 0.220-0.997; p=0.049) times and 2.337 (OD=0.428; CI 95%: 0.219-0.836; p=0.013) times less often, compared to those women without close relatives with cancer. Conclusions: The results of this study indicated that income, marital status, knowledge about risk factors and having a close relative with breast cancer, affect the frequency of BSE performance. Information about risk factors in public health campaigns could additionally strengthen avoidance behaviour and also motivate BSE performance.