On-line version ISSN 0379-8577
According to the experience of the researcher, an oncology nurse, women living in the rural areas of Thulamela municipality in the Limpopo Province, have many different perceptions of breast cancer. Perceptions are based on previous disease experiences. As with previous illnesses, changes in the breast caused by breast cancer are self-managed and treated. When these women seek medical advice for breast cancer related problems, they already have advanced cancer. The purpose of the study was to investigate if women are knowledgeable of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, breast self-examination, as well as appropriate health care to take responsibility to prevent admission with advanced breast cancer. The research study was an exploratory and contextual survey. The sampling method was convenient (n=200). Data were gathered during a structured interview using a checklist. Data analysis was done by means of descriptive statistics. The results of the study indicated a low level of knowledge regarding the signs and symptoms of breast cancer. The average level of knowledge for the signs and symptoms of breast cancer was less than 10% (n=20). With regards to breast self-examination the results varied between 8.5% (n=17) and 13% (n=26). Biomedical medicine was the preferred treatment choice for the majority of the respondents. The study provided evidence that women were unable to take responsibility for their breast health. Their lack of knowledge of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer and breast self-examination would not enable them to prevent presenting with advanced disease. A breast health care strategy for women living in Thulamela should be designed, implemented and evaluated to prevent presentation with advanced breast cancer.
Keywords : Breast cancer; signs and symptoms of breast cancer; breast self-examination; health care provider; rural women.