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      Knowledge, attitude and practice of Nigerian women towards breast cancer: A cross-sectional study


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          Late presentation of patients at advanced stages when little or no benefit can be derived from any form of therapy is the hallmark of breast cancer in Nigerian women. Recent global cancer statistics indicate rising global incidence of breast cancer and the increase is occurring at a faster rate in populations of the developing countries that hitherto enjoyed low incidence of the disease. Worried by this prevailing situation and with recent data suggesting that health behavior may be influenced by level of awareness about breast cancer, a cross-sectional study was designed to assess the knowledge, attitude and practices of community-dwelling women in Nigeria towards breast cancer.


          One thousand community-dwelling women from a semi-urban neighborhood in Nigeria were recruited for the study in January and February 2000 using interviewer-administered questionnaires designed to elicit sociodemographic information and knowledge, attitude and practices of these women towards breast cancer. Data analysis was carried out using Statistical Analysis Software (SAS) version 8.2.


          Study participants had poor knowledge of breast cancer. Mean knowledge score was 42.3% and only 214 participants (21.4%) knew that breast cancer presents commonly as a painless breast lump. Practice of breast self examination (BSE) was low; only 432 participants (43.2%) admitted to carrying out the procedure in the past year. Only 91 study participants (9.1%) had clinical breast examination (CBE) in the past year. Women with higher level of education (X 2 = 80.66, p < 0.0001) and those employed in professional jobs (X 2 = 47.11, p < 0.0001) were significantly more knowledgeable about breast cancer. Participants with higher level of education were 3.6 times more likely to practice BSE (Odds ratio [OR] = 3.56, 95% Confidence interval [CI] 2.58–4.92).


          The results of this study suggest that community-dwelling women in Nigeria have poor knowledge of breast cancer and minority practice BSE and CBE. In addition, education appears to be the major determinant of level of knowledge and health behavior among the study participants. We recommend the establishment and sustenance of institutional framework and policy guidelines that will enhance adequate and urgent dissemination of information about breast cancer to all women in Nigeria.

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          Most cited references31

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          Influence of delay on survival in patients with breast cancer: a systematic review.

          Most patients with breast cancer are detected after symptoms occur rather than through screening. The impact on survival of delays between the onset of symptoms and the start of treatment is controversial and cannot be studied in randomised controlled trials. We did a systematic review of observational studies (worldwide) of duration of symptoms and survival. We identified 87 studies (101,954 patients) with direct data linking delay (including delay by patients) and survival. We classified studies for analysis by type of data in the original reports: category I studies had actual 5-year survival data (38 studies, 53,912 patients); category II used actuarial or multivariate analyses (21 studies, 25,102 patients); and category III was all other types of data (28 studies, 22,940 patients). We tested the main hypothesis that longer delays would be associated with lower survival, and a secondary hypothesis that longer delays were associated with more advanced stage, which would account for lower survival. In category I studies, patients with delays of 3 months or more had 12% lower 5-year survival than those with shorter delays (odds ratio for death 1.47 [95% CI 1.42-1.53]) and those with delays of 3-6 months had 7% lower survival than those with shorter delays (1.24 [1.17-1.30]). In category II, 13 of 14 studies with unrestricted samples showed a significant adverse relation between longer delays and survival, whereas four of five studies of only patients with operable disease showed no significant relation. In category III, all three studies with unrestricted samples supported the primary hypothesis. The 13 informative studies showed that longer delays were associated with more advanced stage. In studies that controlled for stage, longer delay was not associated with shorter survival when the effect of stage on survival was taken into account. Delays of 3-6 months are associated with lower survival. These effects cannot be accounted for by lead-time bias. Efforts should be made to keep delays by patients and providers to a minimum.
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            Randomized trial of breast self-examination in Shanghai: final results.

            Among women who practice breast self-examination (BSE), breast cancers may be detected when they are at an earlier stage and are smaller than in women who do not practice BSE. However, the efficacy of breast self-examination for decreasing breast cancer mortality is unproven. This study was conducted to determine whether an intensive program of BSE instruction will reduce the number of women dying of breast cancer. From October 1989 through October 1991, 266,064 women associated with 519 factories in Shanghai were randomly assigned to a BSE instruction group (132,979 women) or a control group (133,085 women). Initial instruction in BSE was followed by reinforcement sessions 1 and 3 years later, by BSE practice under medical supervision at least every 6 months for 5 years, and by ongoing reminders to practice BSE monthly. The women were followed through December 2000 for mortality from breast cancer. Cumulative risk ratios of dying from breast cancer were estimated using Cox proportional hazards models. All statistical tests were two-sided. There were 135 (0.10%) breast cancer deaths in the instruction group and 131 (0.10%) in the control group. The cumulative breast cancer mortality rates through 10 to 11 years of follow-up were similar (cumulative risk ratio for women in the instruction group relative to that in the control group = 1.04, 95% confidence interval = 0.82 to 1.33; P =.72). However, more benign breast lesions were diagnosed in the instruction group than in the control group. Intensive instruction in BSE did not reduce mortality from breast cancer. Programs to encourage BSE in the absence of mammography would be unlikely to reduce mortality from breast cancer. Women who choose to practice BSE should be informed that its efficacy is unproven and that it may increase their chances of having a benign breast biopsy.
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              Factors predicting delayed presentation of symptomatic breast cancer: a systematic review.

              Delayed presentation of symptomatic breast cancer is associated with lower survival. Understanding of the factors that influence delay is important for the development of strategies to shorten delays. We did a systematic review to assess the quality and strength of evidence on risk factors for delays by patients and providers. We generated hypotheses about the relation between each putative risk factor and delay, against which we tested studies. We did searches to identify papers containing original data related to risk factors for delays by patients (n=86) and providers (n=28). We critically appraised the papers for inclusion in the review according to predefined criteria. The small number of studies of adequate quality did not allow formal meta-analysis. We therefore assigned strength of evidence according to a combination of the number and size of studies supporting, not supporting, or refuting the hypotheses. Most studies were deemed to be of poor quality and were excluded. Among 23 studies of adequate quality, however, there was strong evidence for an association between older age and delay by patients, and strong evidence that marital status was unrelated to delays by patients. Younger age and presentation with a breast symptom other than a lump were strong risk factors for delays by providers. Moderate evidence was shown for several other factors. The strength of the current evidence is inadequate to inform the development of specific strategies to shorten delays by patients or providers. Clarification of the findings of this review through a major programme of primary research is urgently required.

                Author and article information

                World J Surg Oncol
                World Journal of Surgical Oncology
                BioMed Central (London )
                21 February 2006
                : 4
                : 11
                [1 ]Department of Epidemiology, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA
                [2 ]Department of Surgery, College of Medical Sciences, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria
                [3 ]Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, College of Medical Sciences, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria
                Copyright © 2006 Okobia et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 8 November 2005
                : 21 February 2006



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