EXPLORING BREAST CANCER AWARENESS AND RISK FACTORS AMONG FEMALE UNDERGRADUATES IN MEDICAL AND NON-MEDICAL DISCIPLINES: A COMPARATIVE CROSS-SECTIONAL STUDY FROM PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN

Main Article Content

Khansa Khan
Laraib Amin
Zarak Khan
Abdur Rehman
Aiman Hayat
Palwasha Safeer
Salman Zahir
Aima Nasir
Atifa Afridi
Somia Mazhar

Keywords

Risk factors, Awareness, Breast cancer, Peshawar, Pakistan

Abstract

Background: Breast cancer, constituting approximately 23% of all cancer cases in females globally, is a significant health challenge. Projections suggest a rising incidence, emphasizing the importance of awareness and early detection.


Objectives: This research aims to assess and compare breast cancer awareness, and risk factors among female undergraduate students of medical and non-medical disciplines in Peshawar, Pakistan.


Methodology: A four-month comparative observational cross-sectional study involved 600 female participants from diverse  colleges in Peshawar. Utilizing a self-designed questionnaire, the study examined breast cancer awareness, and risk factors.  Statistical analysis, employing SPSS version 26, utilized chi-square test and descriptive statistics.


Results: The study included 600 female participants, with 301 (50.2%) from the medical field and 299 (49.8%) from non-medical disciplines. The participant’s age range was from 18 to 28 years with an average age of 21.17 ± 1.966, 96.7% had heard of breast cancer, with differences in awareness between medical (94.7%) and non-medical students (98.7%). Notably, 43.1% were aware of Breast Self-Examination, while 12.4% and 24.1% knew of clinical breast examination and mammography, respectively. Approximately 32.7% have breast cancer history in family. Lifestyle factors indicated that 66.2% engaged in activities to stay fit, 2.3% reported smoking, and only 0.8% had a previous breast cancer diagnosis.


Conclusion: The study reveals a commendable overall awareness of breast cancer among both medical and non-medical undergraduate students, predominantly sourced from social media. Age at first menstruation during adolescence and a family history of breast cancer are highlighted as significant perceived risk factors in the studied population. Despite high awareness, significant gaps exist in understanding of the risk factors and symptoms, emphasizing the requirement for targeted educational interventions.

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