Evaluation of breast cancer awareness among female university students in Malaysia

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Muhammad A. Hadi
Mohamed A. Hassali
Asrul A. Shafie
Ahmed Awaisu


Breast Neoplasms, Awareness, Breast Self-Examination, Malaysia


Breast cancer is the most common cancer and the leading cause of cancer death among women of all ethnic and age groups in Malaysia.

Objective: The objectives of this study were to evaluate the knowledge of breast cancer risk factors, symptoms and methods of screening among female university students and their perception towards the disease treatment outcomes.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted from February to March 2008 at Universiti Sains Malaysia. Two hundred participants from 10 randomly selected faculties were interviewed face to face by a trained pharmacist using a validated questionnaire. In addition to their demographic characteristics, participants were required to answer 22 questions concerning knowledge of breast cancer and five questions related to their perception of breast cancer management and treatment outcomes. Data were analyzed using SPSS version 15.

Results: The mean age of the respondents was 26.7 (SD=1.9) years. The results showed that the vast majority of the female university students had inadequate knowledge of breast cancer. The mean total knowledge score of the students was 60.7%. Indian students had significantly less knowledge of breast cancer compared to their Chinese and Malay counterparts (p<0.05). However, more than two third of the students were aware of breast self examination (BSE) and clinical breast examination (CBE) recommendations. Furthermore, the students had positive perceptions towards the treatment outcomes of breast cancer.

Conclusion: This study has highlighted the need of a breast cancer awareness campaign, which should also stress the importance of early detection and reporting of breast cancer.

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