Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in both the developed and the developing world. The incidence of breast cancer in Karachi, Pakistan is 69.1 per 100,000 with breast cancer presentation in stages III and IV being common (≥ 50%). The most pragmatic solution to early detection lies in breast cancer education of women. Nurses constitute a special group having characteristics most suited for disseminating breast cancer information to the women. We assessed the level of knowledge of breast cancer risk factors among registered female nurses in teaching hospitals of Karachi. We also identified whether selected factors among nurses were associated with their knowledge of breast cancer risk factors, so that relevant measures to improve knowledge of nurses could be implemented.
A cross-sectional survey was conducted in seven teaching hospitals of Karachi using stratified random sampling with proportional allocation. A total of 609 registered female nurses were interviewed using a structured questionnaire adapted from the Stager's Comprehensive Breast Cancer Knowledge Test. Knowledge of breast cancer risk factors was categorized into good, fair and poor categories. Ordinal regression was used to identify factors associated with risk knowledge among nurses.
Thirty five percent of nurses had good knowledge of risk factors. Graduates from private nursing schools (aOR = 4.23, 95% CI: 2.93, 6.10), nurses who had cared for breast cancer patients (aOR = 1.41, 95% CI: 1.00, 1.99), those having received a breast examination themselves (aOR = 1.56, 95% CI: 1.08, 2.26) or those who ever examined a patient's breast (aOR = 1.87, 95% CI: 1.34, 2.61) were more likely to have good knowledge.
A relatively small proportion of the nursing population had good level of knowledge of the breast cancer risk factors. This knowledge is associated with nursing school status, professional breast cancer exposure and self history of clinical breast examination. Since only about one-third of the nurses had good knowledge about risk factors, there is a need to introduce breast cancer education in nursing schools particularly in the public sector. Continuing nursing education at the workplace can be of additional benefit.