Young women s perceptions of Breast Cancer: A qualitative study exploring perceptions of breast cancer among first-degree relatives of breast cancer patients in Bulawayo Zimbabwe
Appears in the following Collection
- Samfunnsmedisin 
AbstractIntroduction: Breast cancer (BC) is the leading cause of cancer death among females in Africa, where BC peaks 10-15 years earlier than in high-income countries, presenting in advanced and aggressive forms between the ages of 35-45. Cost of treatment is high and often self - detected tumors remain untreated resulting in low survival rates. There is low BC public awareness and low action taken by the government to address BC publicly in Zimbabwe. Young women with a family history of breast cancer are an at risk group for BC and exploring their perceptions on BC could contribute towards understanding and addressing their needs. Objectives: To explore perceptions of BC among young women aged between 18- 35 years, who are first-degree relatives of BC patients in Bulawayo Zimbabwe. Methods: Semi-structured interviews with 10 women, of 18 - 35years, from two health personnel who work for 2 separate non-profit cancer organizations in Bulawayo and informal discussions with 4 breast cancer patients. Findings: Young women s perceptions are strongly influenced by the experiences they had when witnessing their relative going through. They were aware of their BC risk and BSE as an early detection measure. They were able to correctly perform BSE but reported failure to practice BSE regularly (once a month) citing e.g. forgetfulness and worry of uncovering a tumor they could not afford to treat. The young women were missing information on vital risk factors and signs and symptoms of BC. Health professionals do not inform target groups like daughters and sisters of women affected by BC that they are at increased risk and should be screened regularly. The women (relatives) desired to learn more about the disease but noted little public media coverage on BC. Conclusion: Although knowledge exits among young women with a family history of BC, there is still a need for target appropriate information about BC. There is also a need to ensure that women receive affordable early diagnosis and adequate treatment of self-detected tumors.
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