Colorectal Cancer Screening Practices of Primary Care Providers: Results of a National Survey in Malaysia


The incidence of colorectal cancer has been increasing in many Asian countries including Malaysia duringthe past few decades. A physician recommendation has been shown to be a major factor that motivates patientsto undergo screening. The present study objectives were to describe the practice of colorectal cancer screeningby primary care providers in Malaysia and to determine the barriers for not following recommendations. Inthis cross sectional study involving 132 primary care providers from 44 Primary Care clinics in West Malaysia,self-administered questionnaires which consisted of demographic data, qualification, background on the primarycare clinic, practices on colorectal cancer screening and barriers to colorectal cancer screening were distributed.A total of 116 primary care providers responded making a response rate of 87.9%. About 21% recommendedfaecal occult blood test (FOBT) in more than 50% of their patients who were eligible. The most common barrierwas “unavailability of the test”. The two most common patient factors are “patient in a hurry” and “poor patientawareness”. This study indicates that colorectal cancer preventive activities among primary care providers arestill poor in Malaysia. This may be related to the low availability of the test in the primary care setting and poorawareness and understanding of the importance of colorectal cancer screening among patients. More awarenessprogrammes are required for the public. In addition, primary care providers should be kept abreast with thelatest recommendations and policy makers need to improve colorectal cancer screening services in health clinics.