Psychosocial Aspects of Female Breast Cancer in the Middle East and North Africa.
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Breast cancer, the most common cancer among women in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, is associated with social and psychological implications deriving from women's socio-cultural contexts. Examining 74 articles published between 2007 and 2019, this literature/narrative review explores the psychosocial aspects of female breast cancer in the MENA region. It highlights socio-cultural barriers to seeking help and socio-political factors influencing women's experience with the disease. In 17 of 22 Arab countries, common findings emerge which derive from shared cultural values. Findings indicate that women lack knowledge of breast cancer screening (BCS) and breast cancer self-examination (BSE) benefits/techniques due to a lack of physicians' recommendations, fear, embarrassment, cultural beliefs, and a lack of formal and informal support systems. Women in rural areas or with low socioeconomic status further lack access to health services. Women with breast cancer, report low self-esteem due to gender dynamics and a tendency towards fatalism. Collaboration between mass media, health and education systems, and leading social-religious figures plays a major role in overcoming psychological and cultural barriers, including beliefs surrounding pain, fear, embarrassment, and modesty, particularly for women of lower socioeconomic status and women living in crises and conflict zones.
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