Objective: To examine self-reported knowledge, attitude, and preventive practices on cancer among Saudis.
Materials and methods: Data was collected from Saudis aged 15 years or more, who attended one of the randomly selected 20 Primary Health Centers (PHC) or the four major private hospitals located in the Riyadh region, either as patients or their escorts. The association between the variables was evaluated by the Chi square test.
Results: The study population consisted of 618 males and 719 females. Among the female respondents 23.1% reported that they practiced breast self-examination (BSE); 14.2 and 8.1%, respectively, had clinical breast examination (CBE) and mammography. However, 10.0 and 16.1% of the females, aged 40 years and older, reported having had mammograms and CBE, respectively. The BSE performers were more educated, knew someone with cancer, and had heard of the cancer warning signal. Both educational level and 'heard of cancer warning signal' were significantly related to CBE. Cancer information was received from television / radio by 65.1% and from the physician by 29.4%. Even though 69.4% believed that cancer could be detected early, a vast majority (95.8%) felt early detection of cancer was extremely desirable and 55.1% said their participation was definite in any screening program. A majority of the respondents (92.6%) insisted on the need for physician recommendation to participate and 78.1% expected that any such program should be conducted in the existing hospitals / clinics.
Conclusion: Culturally sensitive health education messages should be tailored to fulfill the knowledge gap among all population strata. Saudis will benefit from partnerships between public health educators and media to speed up the dissemination of cancer information.
Keywords: Attitude; breast self-examination; cancer knowledge; cancer prevention; clinical breast examination; mammography.