Evaluation of a Cancer Awareness Campaign: Experience with a Selected Population in Karachi


The incidence and prevalence of cancer is rapidly increasing in both developed and developing countries. Themost common cancers reported in Pakistan are breast and cervical cancers in females, and lung and oral cancers inmales. Public awareness of cancer can play a vital role in its prevention, early diagnosis and treatment. A pilot surveyconducted by the Cancer Support Group (CSG) of Aga Khan University Hospital from 2001 till 2004 to gauge thepublic awareness of cancer in Pakistan revealed that people were afraid of cancer and had little knowledge about itsprevention and early detection. The survey also identified several social, religious and cultural misconceptions whichhinder cancer screening and treatment. In order to create awareness amongst the general public, especially theyoung generation, members of the CSG also organized fifteen health education sessions in schools, colleges, hospitalsand communities in Karachi which were attended by more than 1,500 people. With the help of the results generatedin the pilot project, education material was designed and developed for these health education sessions. Ten percentof the participants contacted CSG members for some unusual finding after administering a self screening teststaught in these sessions. This indicates the importance of holding cancer awareness sessions and the positive feedbackobtained suggests that people would like to have cancer awareness sessions continued.