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We found in an earlier study that while 26% of athletic trainers had worked with athletes with cancer, only 8% had taught their athletes self-examination procedures. In an attempt to examine why athletic trainers do not teach their athletes self-examination procedures, we investigated athletic trainers' knowledge of breast and testicular cancer risk factors and detection techniques.
One hundred researcher-developed questionnaires were distributed at the 1994 National Athletic Trainers' Association Annual Meeting.
Sixty-nine certified athletic trainers with an average age of 32 years. Seventy-two percent held master's degrees.
SPSS-X was used to analyze the results of the study, and chi-square tests were used to compare the athletic trainers' responses by gender.
Over 91% of the athletic trainers had never been taught about either breast or testicular self-examination in their athletic training education. Nearly half of the respondents did not know any of the nine breast cancer risk factors, although females reported significantly more knowledge of risk factors than males. Ninety-one percent of athletic trainers knew none of the four testicular risk factors, although male respondents reported significantly more knowledge of testicular cancer risk factors than females. On a Likert scale, 46% rated breast cancer and 41% rated testicular cancer as being “of little concern” to athletic trainers.
Cancer risk factors and detection techniques should be taught in the athletic training curriculum. As advocates for health and wellness, athletic trainers should then teach this information to their athletes.