Colorectal Cancer Awareness and Screening Preference: A Survey during the Malaysian World Digestive Day Campaign


Background: Although the incidence of colorectal cancer in Malaysia is increasing, awareness of this cancer, including its symptoms, risk factors and screening methods, remains low among Malaysian populations. This survey was conducted with the aim of (i) ascertaining the awareness level regarding colorectal cancer symptoms, risk factors and its screening among the general populations and (ii) assessing the public preference and willingness to pay for colorectal cancer screening. Materials and
Methods: The questionnaire was distributed in eight major cities in West Malaysia during the World Health Digestive Day (WDHD) campaign. Two thousand four hundred and eight respondents participated in this survey.
Results: Generally, awareness of colorectal cancer was found to be relatively good. Symptoms such as change in bowel habit, blood in the stool, weight loss and abdominal pain were well recognized by 86.6%, 86.9%, 83.4% and 85.6% of the respondents, respectively. However, common risk factors such as positive family history, obesity and old age were acknowledged only by less than 70% of the respondents. Almost 80% of the respondents are willing to take the screening test even without any apparent symptoms. Colonoscopy is the preferred screening method, but only 37.5% were willing to pay from their own pocket to get early colonoscopy.
Conclusions: Continous cancer education should be promoted with more involvement from healthcare providers in order to make future colorectal cancer screening programs successful.