Impact of Cancer Awareness Drive on Generating Understanding and Improving Screening Practices for Breast Cancer: a Study on College Teachers in India

Document Type: Methodological papers

Authors

1 Department of Preventive Oncology, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Institute Rotary Cancer Hospital, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi, India.

2 Department of Pediatrics, VMMC & Safdarjung Hospital, New Delhi, India.

3 Department of Radiation Oncology, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Institute Rotary Cancer Hospital, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi, India.

4 Cellular and Molecular Biology Division, The Hormel Institute — University of Minnesota, USA.

5 Department of Bio-statistics, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Institute Rotary Cancer Hospital, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi, India.

6 Department of Biotechnology, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad University of Technology, Kolkata, India.

Abstract

 
Background: Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in India and most present at advanced stage. Although early detection is the only way to reduce morbidity and mortality, people have a very low awareness about breast cancer signs and symptoms and screening practices. The purpose of this study was to assess the level of awareness and impact of awareness programs in adoption of safe practices in prevention and early detection. Methods: This assessment was part of a pink chain campaign on cancer awareness. During events from 2011 to 2015 at various women colleges in different parts in India, a pre-test of knowledge related to breast cancer was followed by an awareness program. Post-tests using the same questionnaire were conducted at the end of the interactive sessions, at 6 months and after1 year. Results: A total of 872 out of 985 teachers participated in the study (overall response rate of 88.5 %). Mean age of the study population was 41.6 years (range 28-59 yrs). There was a significant increase in level of knowledge regarding breast cancer at 6 months and this was sustained at 1 year. Adoption of breast self-examination (BSE) was significantly more frequent in comparison to CBE and mammography. Magazines and newspapers were sources for knowledge regarding screening tests for breast cancer for more than 60% of teachers. Regarding post-awareness at 6 months and 1 year, there was a significant change in alcohol and smoking habits. Major reasons came out to be ignorance (83%) at the start of the campaign which was changed to lack of time (37.7%), lethargic attitude (32.2 %) and lack of time (31.5 %) at 6 months and same at 1 year also. Conclusions: With our awareness program there was a significant increase in level of knowledge regarding breast cancer at 6 months and this was sustained at 1 year. Adoption of BSE was significantly greater in comparison to CBE, mammography. To inculcate safe lifestyle practices in people, awareness programmes such as pink chain campaigns should be conducted more widely and frequently.

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