This study showed that 94% of respondents had ever heard or read about breast cancer. This is higher than the study done among Mekelle town women which showed 83% (10), lower than study findings done in Malaysian among female students is 99.5% (14) This could be due to the difference of education level among the study participants and difference in time interval between the studies. The present study also revealed that 46% of the women have previously heard about breast self-examination. This is lower than study done among Women in Malaysia where 78.4% heard about breast self-examination (13),Jordanian Women 67(15) study done among female undergraduate students in a higher teachers training college in Cameroon 47%(17), A study of BSE among Chinese immigrant women indicated that 80.9% reported having heard of BSE(1) Another study on a group of women in a rural area of Western Turkey found that 72.1% of the respondents had heard about BSE(28) and on the other hand this study was higher than study result done in Benghazi, Libya which showed only 41.5% heard BSE (16). The difference observed could be due to the difference in socio-economic and demographic characteristics among the study population. The relatively low knowledge of our respondents about BSE might preclude them from practicing BSE, which might lessen chances of early detection of the disease. Three-fifth (62 %) of those who had breast cancer information indicated that their major source of information was media. Colleagues/friends were also mentioned as important sources of information on breast cancer. Surprisingly, the proportion of respondents who mentioned health professionals as major source of breast cancer information was lower than the above once 13.8%. This is consistent to the findings of a similar study conducted among Jordanian females where relatives, friends and neighbors were found to be the main sources of breast cancer information(15).and inconsistent with study done among Iranian women which the health professionals are the major source of information 32.4% (29).
In the present study, large proportion [98%] of breast cancer informed participants knew that early detection of breast cancer improves chances of survival from the disease. This finding is supported by the study of Mekelle town women (10) and higher than study done western part of Ethiopia [74.7%](25). The present study showed that among the respondents who reported to have had information on breast self-examination, 79% have ever done BSE, this was smaller than study done Nigerian Nurses in Lagos general hospital [89%] (4), and greater than studies done among women in north Ethiopia [37.3%](30), Malaysian female students 25.5%(14), Female Traders in Ibadan, Nigeria [18%] (6), women in a rural area in western Turkey 40.9% (28), women household heads in Northern Ethiopia [53.6](10). But consistence with study done among female health professionals in Wolega 77%(25) And also 45% participant of this study performing BSE on a regular monthly basis. Studies done in Jordanian Women only 7% (15), Malaysian female students31.2%(14), among female undergraduate students in a higher teachers training college in Cameroon 25.9 (17) This could be due to difference in time interval between the studies.
Furthermore, present study reviled that 29% of the participants know correct age at which BSE commenced this was slightly greater than study in Benghazi, Libya [27.7%](16) and smaller than study done in South East Asia 44% of the study participants had recommend practicing BSE at age of 20(5), Nigerian women(60.28%) recommend age twenty(20) Kyadondo County, Uganda 40% could correctly answer about the recommended age of starting BSE(30)
Breast screening method cited by the participants in present study was: breast self-examination(BSE)15.4%,clinical breast examinaton42.4%, mammography 0.3% The methods of screening for breast cancer reported by Canadian women were: BSE (64.3%), clinical breast examination (45.7%), and mammogram (32.7%)(31) in study done in northern Ethiopia the methods of screening for breast cancer reported by health extension workers were breast self-examination (14.4%), clinical breast examination (22.3%), mammogram (3%)(12) The difference may be due to difference in educational status and composition of participant. In this study 11.6% were illiterate.
In this study 53.6% of BSE performers had support from their partners which was dislike with other study done saying, [39.8%] of BSE performers were getting support from spouse/partner (21).
The major barriers for practicing BSE identified in the present study were: pressure of work/too busy, I don’t have enough privacy to do BSE, I know I can never have Bca, and, forgetfulness, doubt about its effectiveness were mentioned as main barriers/reason not to perform BSE by 30(13.8%), 14 (6.4%), 13 (5.9%), 10(4.6%), and 11(5%) of the respondents, respectively. However more than half of the performers 119(54.8%) claimed that there is no obstacle.
Study done in western part of Ethiopia showed the barriers for not performing BSE were: no breast problem (12.7%), do not feel comfortable performing BSE (2.7%), scared of being diagnosed with breast problem or cancer, do not believe it is beneficial (4%) and do not know how to do it (7.7%)(25).
On the other study the three main reasons for not doing BSE were no breast problem (53.2%), not knowing BSE technique (30.6%), and not knowing the importance of BSE (21.4%](12) In study among Female Debre Birhan University Students the main reasons for not performing BSE were lack of knowledge on how to conduct BSE and not having any symptoms of breast cancer (22) other Study among women household heads in Northern Ethiopia indicate the major barriers for practicing BSE identified were absence of the symptoms and lack of knowledge about its importance(10). And Being health 100 (44.8%) and lack of knowledge 60 (26.9%) were the most barriers mention for not practicing BSE in Adama Science and Technology University (27).
Engagement in occupations other than housewife was significantly associated with performing BSE. These results are in agreement with findings that were reported among Nigerian women(32), study in Benghazi, Libya(16) and study done in Southern Ethiopia (21). Other demographic variables, duration of breast feed; being optimal breast feed, were significantly related to performing BSE in current study. Electronic Media users were 59% more likely to practice BSE. This may be due to its relative accessibility than other source of information
Strength and limitation of the study
Strengths: previous studies conducted in Ethiopia were merely focused on health professionals at their institution but this study was focused on the urban community.
Limitations: this study was conducted in urban community, Sodo town which may not equally represent the rural community and also in this study causal conclusions cannot be drawn