Author(s): Banning M, Hafeez H
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Abstract OBJECTIVE: Even though breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in females in Pakistan, there is a paucity of evidence on the views of Pakistani Muslim women in relation to breast cancer. This study aimed to investigate the perceptions of Pakistani Muslim women in relation to the aetiology of breast cancer and impressions of breast health. The study took place in Lahore, Pakistan. METHODS: This survey used a questionnaire and focus group interviews to investigate women's perspectives on breast health. Data was collected over a period of six months, quantitative data was analysed using descriptive statistics and qualitative data was analysed using thematic analysis. RESULTS: 105 women participated in the questionnaire and 48 women contributed to 6 focus group interviews. Women generally were aware of the term breast cancer but were unsure of its aetiology. The questionnaire data revealed that women were aware of both mammography (55\%) and breast self-examination (BSE) (77\%). Fifty five percent of women had been taught the BSE technique. In comparison, the majority of women attending the focus group interviews had limited exposure to BSE or mammography. Although women had heard of mammograms and BSE they were unaware of BSE technique or breast cancer screening procedures. CONCLUSIONS: Even though there is a desire amongst women to engage in BSE by being taught the necessary technique and specific pathological changes to look for, there is a strong cultural opinion that breasts are private organs that should not be discussed publically. In view of this and the frequency of breast cancer in Pakistani Muslim women, it is essential that breast awareness campaigns are implemented by health care professionals such as breast cancer nurses, midwives and medical practitioners to explore the concept of BSE and breast cancer. Selective health education can educate women and lead to changes in health behavior.
This article was published in Asian Pac J Cancer Prev
and referenced in Primary Healthcare: Open Access