Background: Young breast cancer patients have a lower rate of survival than old breast cancer patients due to being diagnosed at advanced stages. Breast self-examination makes women more "breast aware", which in turn may lead to an earlier diagnosis of breast cancer. The purpose of this study was to investigate knowledge and practice of breast self-examination and to determine knowledge of risk factors for breast cancer among high school students.
Methods: This is a descriptive and cross-sectional study. It was conducted in a high school in Manisa, Turkey. The study sample included 718 female high school students. A socio-demographic characteristics data form, knowledge of breast self-examination and risk factors for breast cancer form and breast self-examination practice form were used to collect data.
Results: The female high school students had insufficient knowledge about breast self-examination and a low percentage of students reported that they had performed breast self-examination monthly. The most common reason for not doing breast self-examination was "not knowing how to perform breast self-examination" (98.5%). Most of the students had little knowledge of the risk factors for breast cancer. The most widely known risk factor by the students was personal history of breast cancer (68.7%). There was a significant relation between breast self-examination practice and age, school grade, knowledge about breast cancer and knowledge about breast self-examination.
Conclusion: There is a need to increase knowledge of adolescent females about the risks of breast cancer and benefits of early detection. In fact, health care professionals can develop effective breast health care programs and help young women to acquire good health habits.