Breast self-examination among college women: predictors for cancer control

Am J Prev Med. 1989 Jan-Feb;5(1):27-33.


Monthly breast self-examination (BSE) to aid in the early diagnosis of breast cancer is advocated for all adult women, but regular and competent practice is unusual. Our purpose was to explore the associations between young women's reported cancer history, BSE training, demographic variables (predictors), self-reported frequency of BSE, BSE skill level, breast lump detection ability, confidence, and anxiety (outcome variables). A general health history questionnaire was administered to 73 female university students, faculty, and staff. BSE skill and detection ability were measured by observation; confidence and anxiety ratings were obtained by interview. BSE frequency was predicted by employment status and cyclically enlarged breasts, while BSE skill was related to professional BSE training and the length of that training plus bra size. Surprisingly, BSE training was not found to be associated with self-reported BSE frequency. These analyses suggest that BSE training may result in more complete BSE (although well below acceptable standards) performed by women who are moderately confident and sensitive to the risk of breast cancer--but not in more frequent BSE.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Breast*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Palpation*
  • Self Care
  • Student Health Services
  • Students