Knowledge on breast cancer and its prevention among women household heads in Northern Ethiopia


Background: Breast cancer (BC) is one of the malignant diseases taking the lion’s share role in the devastating effects caused by cancer. BC related awareness and practice of females are known to have crucial contribution in the prevention and control efforts. The worst aspects of the disease in Ethiopia include absence of research and thus very limited information on any aspect. The study assessed knowledge and practice on BC among women household heads. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted on a sample of 845 women. The sample size was divided among five randomly selected kebeles (smallest government administrative units) proportional to the number of households. Samples were selected by systematic sampling technique. Data were collected by trained data collectors through a face-to-face interview using pre-tested, semi-structured questionnaire from female household heads. Pearson chi-square and logistic regression tests were used to assess the determinants of BC knowledge and breast cancer self examination (BSE) practice. Results: The respondents’ age ranged from 20 to 75 years with a mean age of 33.66 ± 10.8. Onefifth (19.8%) of the respondents were illiterate, while 257 (31.8%) had primary education. Majority of them were married 548 (67.7%), Orthodox Christians 649 (80.4%), and housewives 365 (45.1%). Only 675 (83.4%) of the respondents have ever heard/read about BC. Media 399 (59.1%) and colleagues/friends/neighbors 200 (29.6%) were the major information sources. Only 86 (12.7%) of the respondents had a high BC knowledge. Even though 304 (45%) of the BC informed participants had information on BSE, only 163 (53.6%) of them have ever done it. Both BC knowledge and BSE practice were significantly affected by educational level. Conclusion: Majority of women household heads in Mekelle town had low knowledge and insufficient BC related practices. The region’s health bureau and local mass-media need to work on breast cancer awareness and practice of the women in the town.

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Legesse, B. and Gedif, T. (2014) Knowledge on breast cancer and its prevention among women household heads in Northern Ethiopia. Open Journal of Preventive Medicine, 4, 32-40. doi: 10.4236/ojpm.2014.41006.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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