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J Educ Health Promot. 2018 Jul 6;7:90. doi: 10.4103/jehp.jehp_147_17. eCollection 2018.

Breast self-examination awareness and practices in young women in developing countries: A survey of female students in Karachi, Pakistan.

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Dow University of Health Sciences, Civil Hospital Karachi, Pakistan.
Department of General Surgery, Dow University of Health Sciences, Civil Hospital Karachi, Pakistan.



Breast cancer is a leading cause of deaths worldwide. In Pakistan, one in every nine women develops breast cancer some time in her life. This high incidence of breast cancer and the poor socioeconomic conditions of Pakistan make breast self-examination (BSE) the best tool for the prevention and early diagnosis of breast cancer. Therefore, the aim of the study was to assess the knowledge, attitude, and practice of BSE among female college students of Karachi, Pakistan.


A cross-sectional study was conducted on 1000 students from June to December 2016. Data were collected using a pre-piloted questionnaire, and SPSS (version 20) was used for data analysis. Chi-square test was used to determine the significance of the difference in knowledge and attitude among participants who had performed BSE and those who had not. A P < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.


The overall response rate was 90.9%. Although 71.4% of the women knew what BSE was, only 33.1% had performed it. Majority of the participants considered that BSE is important in the early detection of breast cancer. With 59.7% of the population having an adequate amount of knowledge, 87.2% had a positive attitude toward BSE. A medical background was found to be a significant predictor for adequate knowledge and a positive attitude toward BSE.


Despite a positive attitude found among the population toward BSE, its knowledge and practice were inadequate. Educational interventions are required in Pakistan to encourage young women to perform BSE regularly so that breast abnormalities can be detected early on and mortalities can be minimized.


Attitude; breast cancer; breast self-examination; college students; knowledge

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