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1.1            Background of the Study

Breast Self-Examination (BSE) is a technique in which a lady examines her own breasts by seeing and feeling with fingers to detect breast lump. The purpose of breast self-examination is to increase familiarity with breast, to detect presence of lump in the breast at an early stage and to look for any abnormal changes in the breast Deaton, J.G. (1988). Self examination of the breast each month between the 7th and 10th day of the menstrual cycle is the simplest yet extremely important way to detect breast cancer at the early stage of growth Abudu, E.K et al., (2007). The BSE technique involves palpation of the breasts for lump with the tips of the fingers, rather than the flat of the hand. The woman would be in the erect position, either sitting or standing and while lying down. It has been observed that women can detect 95% of breast cancers and 65% of early minimal breast cancers through BSE Brunar, L.S. and Suddarth, D.S. (1988).

Breast cancer is the most common cause of cancer death among women worldwide Bray, F., MacCarron, P. and Parkin, M. (2004). Globally, it has been reported that breast cancer ranks as the fifth cause of death from cancer overall, although still the leading cause of cancer mortality in women (the 411,000 annual deaths represent 14% of female cancer deaths) Parkin, D.M et al., (2005). The WHO estimated that 1.2 million cases of breast cancer are diagnosed worldwide each year which represented 10% of all diagnosed cancers and constituted 22% of all new cases in women in 2000 making it by far the most common cancer in women Anderson, B.O., Braun, S., Lim, S., Robert, A., Taplin, S.S., et al. (2003). In Nigeria, breast cancer has been reported as the most common cancer in women and the second leading cause of death Adebamowo, C.A. et al., (2000).. Late presentation of patients at advanced stages of when little or no benefit can be derived from any form of therapy is the hallmark of breast cancer in Nigerian women Okobia, M.N et al., (2006). The peak age incidence of breast cancer in Nigeria is reported to be between 45 - 50 years Abudu, E.K et al., (2007). In contrast to Europe and America where it was reported to be 65 - 75 years. Some cases have been reported below 30 years in Nigeria Okobia, M.N. and Osime, U. (2001). The three screening methods recommended for breast cancer include Breast Self-Examination (BSE), clinical breast examination (CBE) and mammography. Unlike CBE and mammography which require hospital visit and specialized equipment and expertise, BSE is inexpensive and carried out by women themselves. Although mammography remains the best diagnostic tool in the detection of breast cancer, it is not routinely performed in Nigeria because of cost, high technology equipment and expertise required. Mammograms miss most breast lump in the younger age groups; this is likely to happen in Nigeria where cases below 30 have been reported Anyanwu, S.N. (2007).

To reduce the burden of breast cancer in Nigeria, it is necessary to first determine the level of knowledge and practice (skill) relating to breast self-examination as a breast cancer prevention strategy especially among our teaming youths who at this stage of life can continue this practice to adulthood. Therefore this study was aimed to identify the level of knowledge and practice of breast self-examination among female undergraduates in Idahosa University in Nigeria.

1.2     Statement of the Problem

Although a lot has been done on the awareness and practice of BSE, not much has been done among undergraduate, as most of the studies have been directed toward relatively young ladies. Again, the late presentation of many ladies with breast cancer to hospitals has continually become a major issue of great concern. In view of the importance of Breast Self Examination (BSE) in the early detection of breast cancer and the fact that it is cost effective and more readily available than any other method of early detection of breast cancer in our environment.

1.3     Objectives of the Study

1.       To examine the impact of breast self examination

2.       To assess whether female undergraduates know the benefits of breast self examination

3.       To determine the level of attitude and practice of BSE among female undergraduate

1.4     Research Questions

1.       What is the impact of breast self examination?

2.       Does female undergraduates know the benefits of breast self examination?

3        What is the level of attitude and practice of BSE among female undergraduate?

1.5     Scope of Study

This study deals more on the subject matter i.e the attitude and practices of breast self examination among female undergraduates of tertiary institution and also extends to the relationship of breast self examination and is extended to possible breast disease. It would provide information that will enhance awareness and the impact breast self examination.

1.6     Significance of the Study      

The rate of breast cancer is of great concern to ladies. This research would provide information that would enhance awareness of the importance of breast self examination.

It would afford the ladies the opportunity of checking and any abnormal condition. This work would also serve as framework of reference for future researchers who might conduct inquiries or research into similar topic.

1.7     Limitations of Study

          In this project, the researcher encountered some difficulties such as lack of sufficient fund to execute the project. The time frame given for the project was not enough to permit more extensive work. Inadequate stock of materials on the topic was another constraint.

          Moreover, since people behave differently even under the same situations and circumstances, one cannot deny that temperamental differences may affect the result of the study.

1.8     Definition of Terms

Breast: Breast is either of the pair of mammary glands extending from the front of the chest in pubescent and adult human females and some other mammals also either of the analogous but rudimentary organs of the male chest especially when enlarged.

Self Examination: Self-examination is the act of examining your own body to check whether or not you have any signs of a particular disease or illness.

Breast self-examination is invaluable for detecting cancer in its very early stages.

Attitude: A predisposition or a tendency to respond positively or negatively towards a certain idea, object, person, or situation. Attitude influences an individual's choice of action, and responses to challenges, incentives, and rewards (together called stimuli).

Undergraduate: An undergraduate is a college or university student who is not a graduate student.

Cancer: Cancer is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body. These contrast with benign tumors, which do not spread to other parts of the body. Possible signs and symptoms include a lump, abnormal bleeding, prolonged cough, unexplained weight loss and a change in bowel movements. While these symptoms may indicate cancer, they may have other causes.

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