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Chin Med J (Engl). 2000 Dec;113(12):1100-3.

Practice of breast self-examination among high risk Chinese women in Hong Kong.

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  • 1Department of Surgery & Nursing Studies, University of Hong Kong, Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong, China.



The incidence of breast cancer in Hong Kong is increasing and breast self-examination (BSE) as a screening tool is becoming more popular, especially among first-degree relatives (FDR) of breast cancer victims. BSE may be more applicable to Chinese women as their breast size is smaller. This study explores the BSE practice in this group of women.


A cross sectional study was conducted by sending questionnaires to 330 FDR of breast cancer patients treated in the Department of Surgery, University of Hong Kong. BSE behavior was studied with respect to its frequency, awareness, completeness and confidence of practice.


110 subjects returned the questionnaires with a response rate of 33%. The mean age of the respondent was 37 years. Only 57 women (52%) were practicers. The practicers have a stronger BSE awareness (P < 0.01) and a lower mean score on thought barriers (P = 0.002) than the non-practicers. 40% of the practicers gain their BSE knowledge through clinicians and their mean period of practice was 3.2 years. 68% of the practicers performed BSE completely. The overall confidence rate was 35%, but the rate was 43% among those who performed complete BSE. Thirteen factors possibly related to the completeness and rate of confidence of BSE examination were studied. The only factor that significantly determined completeness was the time spent for each examination (P = 0.002). The complete practicers required a longer time than the incomplete practicers (6.60 and 2.96 min, respectively). Women with a stronger BSE intention (P = 0.001) and a lower mean score on thought barriers (P = 0.001) performed the examination confidently.


Slightly over half of the FDR practice BSE. The majority perform a complete BSE but they are not confident in finding abnormalities. Women spending more time on BSE are associated with a higher rate of completeness. However, only those with a stronger BSE intention and lesser thought barriers are more confident in their practice.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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