Breast cancer is a widespread and significant problem, but cultural diversity, religious beliefs, and misconceptions can lead to delayed diagnosis and increased healthcare costs. This article seeks to explore the erroneous beliefs and misconceptions about mammary carcinoma among Pakistani women.
Breast cancer: the methodology of the study
We conducted a study in Karachi, Pakistan to understand the myths and misconceptions about mammary carcinoma among women. We interviewed 300 women and analyzed the data using descriptive statistics using SPSS version 23.
The study found:
- High frequency of false beliefs and lack of reliable information about mammary carcinoma.
- Participants were primarily from medium socioeconomic positions (70%) and undergraduates (61.4%).
- Friends and family as major sources of knowledge about mammary carcinoma.
- Prevalence of the myth that breastfeeding offers complete immunity to mammary carcinoma (76.6%).
- The falsehood that mammary carcinoma spreads after biopsy (63.8%).
- The belief is that breast tissue biopsy may result in cancer spreading (63.4%).
- The perception is that alternative medicine and religious healers can treat mammary carcinoma(47.5%).
- Some participants believed all bumps were mammary carcinoma (33.3%), while others related it to painful lumps (41.6%).
- Association of mammary carcinoma with God’s curse (31.4%) or the evil eye (38.7%).
The study found a prevalence of inaccurate beliefs and a lack of accurate knowledge regarding mammary carcinoma among participants. The most widely held misconception was the belief that breastfeeding provides complete protection, followed by the belief that biopsy can cause the spread of cancer. Additionally, faith healers and alternative medicine could provide a cure for mammary carcinoma.
Additionally, a proportion of participants believed all lumps found in the breast were indicative of mammary carcinoma, while others associated it solely with painful lumps. These findings emphasize the need for accurate and accessible education regarding mammary carcinoma.
The study emphasizes the urgent need for community-based breast health education initiatives tailored to Pakistani women’s cultural and societal attitudes. These initiatives should focus on dispelling misconceptions about mammary carcinoma and providing accurate information to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with mammary carcinoma.