Public Awareness of Warning Signs and Symptoms of Cancer in Oman: A Community-Based Survey of Adults


Background: The majority of deaths from cancer occur in low and middle income countries, partly due topoor public awareness of the signs and symptoms of cancer. Materials and
Methods: A community based surveyusing the Cancer Awareness Measure (CAM) questionnaire was conducted in three different communities inOman. Omani adults aged 18 years and above were invited to participate in the study.
Results: A total of 345responded from 450 invited participants (response rate=76.7%). The majority of respondents were unable toidentify the common signs and symptoms of cancer identified in the CAM (average awareness was 40.6%). Themost emotional barrier to seeking help was worry about what the doctor might find (223, 64.6%); a practicalbarrier was too busy to make an appointment (259, 75.1%) and a service barrier was difficulty talking to thedoctor (159, 46.1%). The majority of respondents (more than 60% for seven out of ten symptoms) would seekmedical help in two weeks for most signs or symptoms of cancer. Females were significantly more likely thanmales to be embarrassed (p<0.001), scared (p=0.001), and lack confidence talking about their symptoms (p=0.022).
Conclusions: Urgent strategies are needed to improve public awareness of the signs and symptoms of cancer inOman. This might leads to earlier diagnosis, improved prognosis and reduced mortality from cancer.