Background: Earlier studies on cancer knowledge/awareness from Saudi Arabia have been few and mostlylimited to knowledge of and attitude towards breast cancer. The objectives of the present cross sectional studywere to determine the levels of knowledge concerning cancer and to identify associated factors.
Methods: Thisstudy was carried out among 1,407 Saudis who were either patients or their escorts, attending selected hospitalsin Riyadh region and aged 15 years or more. Required information was obtained by interview using a pilotedArabic questionnaire. Associations between different variables and respondents knowledge were evaluated byChi square test. Multiple logistic regression analyses were performed to examine the potential impact of thevariables.
Results: This study population consisted of 688 males and 719 females. Approximately two thirds ofparticipants (67.6%) had never heard of any cancer warning signals, but 80.7% believed some cancers can becured if detected early, 27.1% believed cancer means end of life and 74.2% believed cancer will appear overnight.The majority of the respondents (65.1%) received information about cancer from television/radio. Although 1,159had high level knowledge (scored 50.0% and more), only 233 individuals scored 75.0% and more. Significantdifferences in the knowledge level across age groups, educational levels and marital status were observed.Females had higher level knowledge than males. Odds of having high level knowledge about cancer was 5.27times higher among those who had undergone any of the tests (breast self examination, mammography, occultblood, Papanicolau smear) compared to those who had none of those tests (95% CI: 1.87-14.84). Those who hadheard about any cancer warning signal were more knowledgeable (OR=1.55; 95% CI: 1.10-2.19) than thosewho hadn’t. The other most important determinants of knowledge level included age, and attending a primaryhealth care centre.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that the knowledge of cancer is poor among the public andgreater attempts should be made to increase public awareness.