Assessment of Breast Cancer Awareness among Female University Students in Ajman, United Arab Emirates

Shatha S. Al-Sharbatti, Rizwana B. Shaikh, Elsheba Mathew, Mawahib A. Al-Biate

Abstract


Objectives: The aim of this study was to assess female university students’ knowledge of breast cancer and its preventative measures and to identify their main misconceptions regarding breast cancer. Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted between April 2011 and June 2012 and included female students from three large universities in Ajman, United Arab Emirates (UAE). A stratified random sampling procedure was used. Data were collected through a validated, pilot-tested, self-administered questionnaire. The questionnaire included 35 questions testing knowledge of risk factors, warning signs and methods for the early detection of breast cancer. Participants’ opinions regarding breast cancer misconceptions were also sought. Results: The participants (n = 392) were most frequently between 18 and 22 years old (63.5%), non-Emirati (90.1%) and never married (89%). A family history of breast cancer was reported by 36 (9.2%) of the students. The percentage of participants who had low/below average knowledge scores regarding risk factors, warning signs and methods for early detection of breast cancer was 40.6%, 45.9% and 86.5%, respectively. Significantly higher knowledge scores on risk factors were noticed among participants with a family history of breast cancer (P = 0.03). The misconception most frequently identified was that “treatment for breast cancer affects a woman’s femininity” (62.5%). Conclusion: A profound lack of knowledge about breast cancer was noted among female university students in the three UAE universities studied. The most prominent gaps in knowledge identified were those concerning breast cancer screening methods.



Keywords


Breast Cancer; Awareness; Students; United Arab Emirates.

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Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University, PO Box 35, Postal Code 123, Al-Khod, Muscat, Oman

ISSN (Print edition): 2075-051X ISSN (Internet edition): 2075-0528

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