Impact of Educational Level and Family income on Breast Cancer Awareness among College-Going Girls in Shillong (Meghalaya), India

Document Type: Research Articles

Authors

1 Cancer Foundation of India, Kolkata, West Bengal, India.

2 Civil Hospital, Shillong, Meghalaya, India.

3 National Institute of Cancer Prevention & Research, NOIDA, U.P, India.

Abstract

Background: Breast cancer (BC) is the most common cancer among women in India and shows an increasing trend. The mammography screening seems unfeasible as a public health service in India. Thus, breast self-examination (BSE), followed by clinical breast examination (CBE), is the affordable method to downstage BC. A cross-sectional study was conducted with senior school and college-going girls in Shillong (Meghalaya) to study the impact of girls’ academic level and family income on breast cancer knowledge and the prevalence of BC’s known risk factors in girls.  Methods: A self-administered questionnaire was employed to collect relevant information. The data were analysed using statistical software SPSS version 22. The categorical data presented as frequency (%) and the comparison made using Chi-square or Fisher exact test. Results: (i) 78.2% girls knew about breast cancer, 19.2% of these were aware of BSE, and 22.9% of BSE knowing ever performed it (ii) Awareness of breast cancer and BSE, and its practice is significantly associated with their academic level and family income (iii) The consumption of alcohol beverages and physical activity of girls was positively associated with educational level and family income (iv) Body mass index (BMI) was weakly associated with family income with an insignificant relationship with academic level (v) oily food consumption related inversely with the level of education irrespective of family income (vi) there was a positive correlation between parents education and family income. Conclusions: The results show a severe lack of breast cancer knowledge in senior school and college-going girls under the survey. To spread community awareness, we suggest a public health policy-driven educational intervention through culturally relevant mass/social media on the risk factors of breast cancer and practice of BSE. It is also recommended that dedicated facilities be created for breast cancer early diagnosis in the public health system.

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