Document Type: Research Articles
Department of Community Medicine, Maulana Azad Medical College and Associated Hospitals, New Delhi, India.
Background: Breast cancer is a major public health problem globally. The ongoing epidemiological, socio-cultural and demographic transition by accentuating the associated risk factors has disproportionately increased the incidence of breast cancer cases and resulting mortality in developing countries like India. Early diagnosis with rapid initiation of treatment reduces breast cancer mortality. Therefore awareness of breast cancer risk and a willingness to undergo screening are essential. The objective of the present study was to assess the knowledge and practices relating to screening for breast cancer among women in Delhi. Methods: Data were obtained from 222 adult women using a pretested self-administered questionnaire. Results: Rates for knowledge of known risk factors of breast cancer were: family history of breast cancer, 59.5%; smoking, 57.7%; old age, 56.3%; lack of physical exercise, 51.9%; lack of breastfeeding, 48.2%; late menopause, 37.4%; and early menarche, 34.7%. Women who were aged < 30 and those who were unmarried registered significantly higher knowledge scores (p ≤ 0.01). Breast self-examination (BSE) was regularly practiced at-least once a month by 41.4% of the participants. Some 48% knew mammography has a role in the early detection of breast cancer. Since almost three-fourths of the participants believed BSE could help in early diagnosis of breast cancer, which is not supported by evidence, future studies should explore the consequences of promoting BSE at the potential expense of screening mammography. Conclusion: Our findings highlight the need for awareness generation among adult women regarding risk factors and methods for early detection of breast cancer.