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Knowledge of Breast Cancer and Screening Practices Among Iranian Immigrant Women in Toronto

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Breast cancer is a leading cause of mortality and morbidity in Canada. Secondary prevention through screening may enable early identification and treatment, but this is suboptimal among all Canadian women, particularly minority immigrant women. This cross-sectional exploratory study assessed breast health knowledge and practices among Iranian immigrant women residing in Toronto. Our sample included 50 adult women with no history of breast cancer. Results showed that, overall, participants had limited knowledge of breast cancer and screening practices. More than two-thirds had low knowledge scores; 22% did not know that the risk of breast cancer increases with age; about 50% did not know the recommended time interval for screening mammography; 72% did not know how frequently to undergo a clinical breast examination. Length of stay in Canada was associated with self-reported breast health practices. These findings highlight the need to educate Iranian immigrants about the role of screening to promote early identification of breast cancer in the absence of symptoms. Culturally sensitive educational materials should be developed to address their specific needs. Healthcare providers should also be educated about how to communicate breast health information effectively to immigrant women. Opportunistic teaching during each health encounter should be encouraged and reinforced.

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I would like to thank the following people who were instrumental in the completion of this study: all the women who found time in their busy schedules to participate in this study, Dr. Mehrdad Vahabi and Mr. Behruz Dawudi for the translation of the study instrument and revisions, and Dr. Cynthia Damba in assisting with the data analysis.

Financial Support

Financial support for this study was provided in part by Ryerson New Faculty SRC Development Fund and Ryerson Faculty of Community Services SRC Grant. The funding agreement ensured the author’s independence in designing the study, interpreting the data, writing, and publishing the report.

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Correspondence to Mandana Vahabi.

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Vahabi, M. Knowledge of Breast Cancer and Screening Practices Among Iranian Immigrant Women in Toronto. J Community Health 36, 265–273 (2011).

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