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

  • Al-Azri, Mohammed (Department of Family Medicine and Public Health, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University Hospital) ;
  • Al-Hamedi, Ibtisam (Department of Family Medicine and Public Health, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University Hospital) ;
  • Al-Awisi, Huda (Nursing Directorate, Sultan Qaboos University Hospital) ;
  • Al-Hinai, Mustafa (Department of Family Medicine and Public Health, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University Hospital) ;
  • Davidson, Robin (Department of Family Medicine and Public Health, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University Hospital)
  • Published : 2015.04.14

Abstract

Background: The majority of deaths from cancer occur in low and middle income countries, partly due to poor public awareness of the signs and symptoms of cancer. Materials and Methods: A community based survey using the Cancer Awareness Measure (CAM) questionnaire was conducted in three different communities in Oman. Omani adults aged 18 years and above were invited to participate in the study. Results: A total of 345 responded from 450 invited participants (response rate=76.7%). The majority of respondents were unable to identify the common signs and symptoms of cancer identified in the CAM (average awareness was 40.6%). The most emotional barrier to seeking help was worry about what the doctor might find (223, 64.6%); a practical barrier was too busy to make an appointment (259, 75.1%) and a service barrier was difficulty talking to the doctor (159, 46.1%). The majority of respondents (more than 60% for seven out of ten symptoms) would seek medical help in two weeks for most signs or symptoms of cancer. Females were significantly more likely than males 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 in Oman. This might leads to earlier diagnosis, improved prognosis and reduced mortality from cancer.

Keywords

Cancer symptoms;cancer signs;awareness;public;questionnaires;Oman

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