Journal of cancer education : the official journal of the American Association for Cancer Education 2017 05 24() doi 10.1007/s13187-017-1234-3
Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women in South Africa. There is little knowledge of beliefs to help identify key areas to improve support and education in this demographically and culturally diverse population. Women with a variety of demographic and socioeconomic characteristics accessing care for breast cancer were asked their agreement to statements of knowledge and beliefs about breast cancer. Of the 259 participants, positive statements of medical cure (87.9%) and family support (90.5%) were most commonly believed. Beliefs in faith-based cure and alternative treatments were also present (79.5 and 24.9%, respectively). Negative beliefs were initially more likely in black patients (RR: 11.57, 95%CI: 1.37-97.69) as was belief of cancer as a punishment (RR: 6.85, 95%CI: 1.41-33.21). However, in multivariate analysis adjusting for age, education and access to information (by newspaper, Internet and confidence in reading and writing), there was no difference between racial groups or hospital attended. Reading a newspaper or accessing the Internet was the most protective against belief that cancer was a punishment or curse (Internet use: aRR: 0.12, 95%CI: 0.02-0.99), belief in alternative methods of cure (newspaper use: aRR: 0.51, 95%CI: 0.27-0.96) and the negative beliefs of death and disfigurement (Internet use: aRR: 0.00, 95%CI: 0.00-0.00). Positive expressions of cure and beating cancer were found equally in all women. Attitudes and beliefs about cancer showed little independent demographic or socioeconomic variance. Negative beliefs were mitigated by access to information and confidence in literacy.