Mukesh Shanthilal1, Sathya Maruthavanan2

BACKGROUND Cervical and breast cancers are the common malignancies among female population in India. Though there are approved screening methods available to prevent and detect these cancers at an early stage, there is a lack of awareness about cancer screening among general public as well as the health care professionals. This study is aimed to identify the knowledge, attitude and practice (KAP) among the nursing staff regarding cancer screening in these two diseases. METHOD A cross-sectional interview based survey was conducted among 303 female nursing staff working in a government medical college hospital from November 2015 to December 2015. Ethical committee approval was taken. Verbal informed consent was sought from the study subjects. Nursing staff who gave consent to participate in the study were enrolled. There were no specific inclusion or exclusion criteria for the study subjects. A structured pretested questionnaire regarding knowledge, attitude and practice (KAP) was used to collect the data. The questions were open-ended. Recall and recognition type of questions were used. The data was entered into MS Excel worksheet and analysed using descriptive statistics.
RESULTS Total of 303 nurses included in the study. The age ranged from 21 to 64 years. Median age is 38 years. Only 24.4% (74/303) of Nurses were aware of cancer screening and many of them were aware of Pap smear (55.1%, 167/303) and mammogram (66.3%, 201/303) as investigational tools in diagnosing cancer. Only 17 out of 303 (5.6%) nurses had Pap smear test done with an average of 1.23% Pap smear per individual. Mammogram screening was done in 13% (15/115) of the eligible nurses with an average of 1.2% mammogram per individual. The most common reason for not undergoing screening as expressed was they did not feel the need to be screened unless they were symptomatic (55%), they are too young for screening (14.8%), shyness (11.1%), fear (11.1%) and lack of time (7.4%). However, 90% of them were willing to undergo screening if conducted by the institute. The limitation of this study is small number of subjects; this may not represent the view of nursing staff in general. Large multi-institutional studies have to be undertaken to assess KAP among the nursing staff regarding cancer screening.
CONCLUSION This data suggests that levels of knowledge and practice of cancer screening are very poor among nursing staff working in government medical college hospital. Cancer screening program should also include health care professionals in addition to general population.