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Breast Cancer (Auckl). 2014 May 8;8:73-9. doi: 10.4137/BCBCR.S13745. eCollection 2014.

Breast Cancer Knowledge, Beliefs, and Screening Practices among Women Seeking Care at District Hospitals in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

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Pathfinder International, Watertown, MA, USA.
Tanzania Public Health Association, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Medical Oncology, Maine Medical Center Cancer Institute, Scarborough, ME, USA.



Limited disease awareness among women may impact breast cancer stage-at-diagnosis in Tanzania, reducing survival. This study assessed breast cancer knowledge, screening practices, and educational preferences among outpatients at Tanzanian government-supported hospitals.


A convenience sample of women was surveyed regarding (1) knowledge/beliefs of breast cancer etiology, risk factors, symptoms, treatment, (2) early detection knowledge/practice, and (3) educational preferences.


Among 225 respondents, 98.2% knew of breast cancer; 22.2% knew someone affected by breast cancer. On average, 30% of risk factors and 51% of symptoms were identified. Most accepted one or more breast cancer myths. Among 126 aware of breast self-exam, 40% did not practice it; only 0.9% underwent regular clinical breast examinations despite 68% being aware of the procedure. Among treatments, 87% recognized surgery, 70% radiation, and fewer systemic therapy. Preferred educational sources were group sessions, television/radio, and meetings with breast cancer survivors.


This work reveals incomplete breast cancer awareness among Tanzanian women and promises to inform development of user-focused educational resources.


Tanzania; awareness; breast cancer; low income; urban

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