Awareness of Risk Factors for Cancer among Omani adults- A Community Based Study


Background: Cancer is the leading cause of mortality around the world. However, the majority of cancers occur as a result of modifiable risk factors; hence public awareness of cancer risk factors is crucial to reduce the incidence. The objective of this study was to identify the level of public awareness of cancer risk factors among the adult Omani population. Materials and
Methods: A community based survey using the Cancer Awareness Measure (CAM) questionnaire was conducted in three areas of Oman to measure public awareness of cancer risk factors. Omani adults aged 18 years and above were invited to participate in the study. SPPSS (ver.20) was used to analyse the data.
Results: A total of 384 participated from 500 invited individuals (response rate =77%). The majority of respondents agreed that smoking cigarettes (320, 83.3%), passive smoking (279, 72.7%) and excessive drinking of alcohol (265, 69%) are risks factors for cancer. However, fewer respondents agreed that eating less fruit and vegetables (83, 21.6%), eating more red or processed meat (116, 30.2%), being overweight(BMI> 25) (123, 32%), doing less physical exercise (119, 31%), being over 70 years old (72, 18.8%), having a close relative with cancer (134, 34.9%), infection with human papilloma virus (HPV) (117, 30.5%) and getting frequent sunburn during childhood (149, 38.8%) are risk factors for cancer. A significant association was found between participant responses and their educational level. The higher the educational level, the more likely that respondents identified cancer risk factors including smoking (p<0.0005), passive smoking (p= 0.007), excessivedrinking of alcohol (p<0.0005), eating less fruit and vegetables (p= 0.001) and infection with HPV (p<0.0005).
Conclusions: The majority of respondents in this study in Oman were not aware of the common risk factors for cancer. It may be possible to reduce the incidence of cancers in Oman by developing strategies to educate the public about these risk factors.