The increased prevalence of breast cancer in recent years characterized by young age and delayed presentation has alerted women to randomly seek medical advice randomly. Breast cancer awareness programs are scarce and when available function on a very limited scale. In an attempt to increase cancer awareness among women, school teachers were targeted as missionaries to the community. The purpose of this study was to assess the efficiency of the breast cancer awareness campaign mounted by the author.
Material and Methods:
This survey was undertaken in 2005 with school teachers in Al Khobar district, Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia as the target. A breast cancer campaign was designed with lectures and workshops and delivered to school teachers in seven separate sessions. Each session was attended by 100-150 female teachers selected by their administration. Pre and post workshop questionnaires were distributed to assess knowledge of cancer symptoms, risk factors, attitudes towards breast self-examination (BSE), mammography, and common misconceptions.
The majority demonstrated minimal basic background knowledge on breast cancer, methods of conducting BSE or the need for mammography. The pre workshop questionnaires showed that 5% agreed and performed BSE, 14% thought that mammography may be needed, while 81% did not think any of these modalities were necessary. Post workshop questionnaire demonstrated positive results, 45% agreed to perform BSE, 45% agreed to the need of mammographic screening while 10% still did not see the necessity of these procedures and refused the knowledge or the search for asymptomatic lesions.
In order to succeed, breast cancer programs should be structured and implemented on a wide scale preferably tailored to fit individual communities. School teachers as educators help to convey the message to a large sector of the population by enhancing the knowledge of the younger generation on the necessity and the importance of early detection of cancer.