REVIEW – November 2007

The awareness of breast cancer and breast cancer screening among women not participating in screening. The reasons for non-participation in screening


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The incidence of breast cancer among women has increased several times in recent decades. To decrease the mortality rate of breast cancer, breast cancer screening has been conducted among women of certain age groups in many countries of the world in recent decades. Breast cancer screening was launched in Estonia in 2002. The biggest problem concerning the screening has been low participation rate that has not exceeded 50% during the first four years.
The aim of the present study was to describe the knowledge of breast cancer and breast cancer screening among the women who did not participate in the screening.
Method. A total of 146 questionnaires completed by women (aged 55 to 61 years) who had not participated in the screening were analysed.
Results. The knowledge of breast cancer among the women who had avoided participation in breast cancer  screening is insufficient, which was confirmed by more than half of the respondents. Of the respondents 10% stated that they did not know anything about breast cancer. However, at the same time, 46% of them would have liked to improve their knowledge of breast cancer as well as of the risk factors of breast cancer. Media and television play an important role in the improvement of awareness among women, both have been and are preferable sources of information about breast cancer and screening. The most suitable source of information in the future, as mentioned by the respondents, would be information booklets/fliers available at the family doctor’s/physician’s office.
Conclusions. Of the women 29% who had not participated in breast cancer screening had only recently underwent breast examination after referral or had started regular breast examinations due to the fact that they already had breast cancer. A considerable number of the women who are invited to pass a screening examination do not receive the invitation. This may be caused by the inaccurate database of the Estonian Health Insurance Fund that is mailing invitations, which in turn, is caused by the fact that the citizens of Estonia have no obligation to inform the (local) government about their permanent residence or a change of residence.