Knowledge and perception of breast cancer among women of various ethnic groups in the state of Penang: a cross-sectional survey

Med Princ Pract. 2010;19(1):61-7. doi: 10.1159/000252837. Epub 2009 Dec 9.


Objective: The objective of this study was to assess and compare the knowledge and perception of breast cancer among women of various ethnic groups in the state of Penang.

Subjects and methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted from February 5 to March 15, 2008. 384 participants were conveniently selected and interviewed face to face by a trained researcher (M.A.H.) using a validated questionnaire. Participants were required to answer 22 questions concerning knowledge of breast cancer and 5 questions on the perception of breast cancer management and treatment outcomes.

Results: The mean total score of knowledge was 59.1%, with Indian women having significantly less knowledge than the Chinese and Malay women (p < 0.001). Only 117 (32.3%) and 120 (33.0%) women were aware of the recommended breast self-examination (BSE) and clinical breast examination (CBE) guidelines, respectively. Multiple regression analysis showed that ethnicity, age, level of education and employment status were major determinants of breast cancer knowledge.

Conclusion: The current study has demonstrated that women in the state of Penang have serious knowledge deficits about breast cancer and poor awareness of BSE and CBE guidelines. This study has highlighted the need of an intensive breast cancer awareness campaign which should also stress the importance of early detection and reporting of breast cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Asians / ethnology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / ethnology
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Malaysia
  • Middle Aged
  • Whites / ethnology*
  • Young Adult