Societal Perception of Breast Cancer Amongst Elderly Women: Implications for Management and Intervention Programmes in Nigeria

Monday, July 14, 2014: 11:15 AM
Room: F205
Oral Presentation
Kenechukwu ANUGWOM , University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nsukka, Nigeria
The study drawing from a sample of over 1000 respondents in Southeastern Nigeria investigated the influence of socio-cultural factors on the perception of breast cancer amongst elderly women in Nigeria. It discovered a significant variation in perception between rural and urban respondents. However, a general lack of inadequate knowledge about the nature and impact of breast cancer was prevalent in both groups of respondents. The study also discovered that such social attributes as age, education and income are critical determinants of the perception of breast cancer amongst elderly women. Crucially the study found out that over 30 per cent of the respondents were unaware of the occurrence of breast cancer among elderly women. Also, a majority of the respondents were ignorant of the existence of medical services for early detection and management of cancer. The health belief model was especially relevant in the explanation of the perception of breast cancer. Thus, only women who feel susceptible to the disease take actions towards both detection and management of the disease in Nigeria. Interestingly, medical services for the disease were found grossly inadequate and professional social work services are scarcely available. Therefore, the study recommends increased awareness creation; retooling medical services to focus on broad-based cancer services that include elderly women; and the extension of social work services beyond traditional concerns to include breast cancer management and care especially for the elderly who are often neglected from formal health provisioning in Nigeria.