Background: Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second most common cancer in Malaysia. Awareness of risk factors, symptoms and warning signs of CRC will help in early detection. This paper presents the level of CRC awareness among the urban population in Malaysia.
Method: A cross-sectional study was conducted from November 2015 till December 2016 at three government clinics in the Klang Valley. The validated Bowel Cancer Awareness Measure questionnaire in both English and Malay was used. The mean knowledge scores for the warning signs and risk factors of CRC in different socio-demographic groups were compared using ANOVA in SPSS version 23. Statistical significance was set at p<0.05 and a 95% confidence level.
Results: Of the 426 respondents, 29.1% were unable to recall the warning signs and symptoms of CRC. Average recall was less than two warning signs and symptoms (mean 1.62, SD 1.33). The mean total knowledge score for CRC was 9.91 (SD 4.78), with a mean knowledge scores for warning signs and risk factors at 5.27 (SD 2.74) and 4.64 (SD 2.78), respectively. Respondents with a higher level of education were found to have higher level of knowledge regarding the warning signs of CRC. There was a significant positive association between knowledge score for warning signs and level of confidence in detecting warning signs. Regarding the total knowledge score for CRC, 3.3% of respondents scored zero. For warning signs and risk factors, 8.2% and 8.5% of respondents had zero knowledge scores, respectively.
Conclusions: Generally, awareness of CRC is poor among the urban population of Klang Valley. Greater education and more confidence in detecting warning signs are significantly associated with better knowledge of warning signs. CRC awareness programs should be increased to improve awareness.