Purpose Breast cancer survival is unacceptably low in many low-resource settings, including rural South Africa, where access to screening and treatment services is limited. To describe the context for implementing an early detection program, we assessed knowledge and attitudes toward breast cancer risk, early detection, and treatment. Methods We conducted a cross-sectional survey among 243 women presenting to Hlokomela Clinic in Hoedspruit, South Africa, during April and May 2016. We used quantitative and qualitative analyses to determine levels of knowledge of risk factors, symptoms, and treatment of breast cancer, as well as experience with and attitudes toward detection and treatment methods. Results Thirty-one percent of women correctly identified at least six of 12 risk factors for breast cancer, and 53.1% identified breast lumps as an important symptom. Although > 97% of women stated that self–breast examination and early detection were highly important and that they would seek care for changes in their breasts, only 33.3% of women reported performing self–breast examination, and only 24.3% reported receiving a clinical breast examination. Age and education were not associated with knowledge, and level of knowledge did not predict care-seeking behaviors or attitudes. Conclusion Although women demonstrated moderate levels of knowledge of breast cancer symptoms and risk factors and the importance of early detection, few women reported seeking services. These data demonstrate sufficient levels of knowledge and positive attitudes toward care seeking and suggest both a need and readiness for increased access to cost-effective services to facilitate early diagnosis and improved outcomes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research