Knowledge about Colorectal Cancer in Northern Iran: a Population-Based Telephone Survey


Background: Colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the most common malignancies of the gastrointestinal tract. The aim of this study was to assess the general knowledge of CRC in individuals living in Rasht, Iran, using a population-based cross-sectional telephone survey. Materials and
Methods: A total of 1557 participants between 18 and 80 years of age were interviewed using random sampling from the telephone directory. Knowledge of risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis, and prevention of CRC was assessed using a validated questionnaire.
Results: The mean knowledge level of the 1,557 respondents (average age 46 y) was 13.5 ± 4.29 (maximum possible score = 26), and 46.4% (722/1,557) of the subjects achieved grades lower than the mean score. The mean scores for knowledge of symptoms and risk factors were 3.97 ± 1.83 (range: 0–7) and 5.17 ± 1.65 (range: 0–9), respectively. Older age, higher education, and employment were significantly associated with better scores for recognition of risk factors and warning symptoms. The majority of subjects correctly identified weight loss (70.2%; 1,093/1,557) and rectal bleeding (63.3%; 986/1,557) as symptoms of CRC, and that smoking (85.9%; 1,337/1,557) and a lowfiber diet (73.4%; 1,143/1,557) were risk factors. Approximately half of the subjects noted increasing age, genetic background and fried food as other risk factors. A considerable number (54.8%; 853/1,557) identified colonoscopy as a screening method for detecting CRC in asymptomatic patients. However, a third of the subjects in the target group for screening (≥ 50 y) were not interested in undergoing screening, primarily due to a lack of symptoms.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that the knowledge of CRC is poor among the public, and therefore greater attempts should be made to increase awareness. Public education emphasizing the risk factors and symptoms of CRC, as well as the importance of regular screening regardless of the presence of symptoms, may help to reduce CRC morbidity and mortality.