Department of Surgery, King Abdulaziz University, Hospital, Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Background: This study explored the knowledge and awareness about colorectal cancer (CRC) among undergraduate students of one of the leading universities in Saudi Arabia, along with the mode of information access. Materials and Methods: The present cross-sectional study was conducted at the King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, among students of different faculties. The study questionnaire, containing 28 items, was adapted from surveys identified in the relevant literature. The CRC awareness questionnaire consisted of an awareness section (early CRC signs and symptoms, and risk factors) and a knowledge section. The data were analyzed using the SPSS version 21.0. Results: A total of 525 undergraduate students participated in the study. The majority were females (63.0%) and approximately half (56.8%) were medical students. The majority of the students (82.3%) were aware of CRC, and 68% thought that CRC is a preventable disease. Regarding colorectal cancer screening tests, only one-third of students (33%) had actual knowledge, while the majority of the students (77.0%) thought that there are tests which help in early detection. Only 4% of the participants had a family history of CRC. The majority of the participants (84%) thought that CRC is a disease that can be cured. Almost 50-60% participants had good awareness level regarding risk factors, and signs and symptoms. Regarding knowledge, participant responses varied for family history (52%), age (59%), chronic infection of the colon (72%), obesity and lack of exercise (66%). More than one-third of the students had received information material regarding CRC from their curriculum followed by social media (20.4%), and nearly 40% from other sources such as TV, hospital and mass media. Female participants had significantly better awareness in a few questions regarding CRC awareness as compared to their male counterparts. There was a significant difference observed between medical and non-medical students (<0.001) in overall score of awareness and knowledge about CRC while no significant difference found in gender-wise comparison. Conclusions: Knowledge and awareness of students about CRC were not up to the mark. Medical students and female students had better knowledge in a few areas, but the overall situation is dismal.