Awareness and knowledge of oral cancer among university students in Malaysia

Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2012;13(1):165-8. doi: 10.7314/apjcp.2012.13.1.165.


Objectives: This study aimed to assess the level of knowledge of oral cancer and its associated factors among university students in Malaysia.

Methods: A cross sectional study was conducted among 200 university students in Malaysia. A self administered questionnaire was used to collect data. It included questions on socio- demographic data, awareness and knowledge of oral cancer.

Results: Mean age of the respondents was 21.5 ± 2.5 and the age ranged from 18 to 27 years. The majority of the respondents were aware of oral cancer (92.0%) and recognized the followings as signs and symptoms of oral cancer: ulcer and oral bleeding (71.0%), followed by swelling (61.5%). A satisfactory knowledge was observed on the following risk factors; smoking (95.5%), poor oral hygiene (90.5%), family history (90.0%), alcohol (84.5%) and poor fitting dentures (83.0%). However, unsatisfactory knowledge was observed about hot/spicy food (46.5%), obesity (36.0%), old age (31.5%), dietary factor (29.0%) and smokeless tobacco (25.5%). Knowledge of oral cancer was associated significantly with age (p<0.01), year of study (p<0.01) and course of study (p<0.01).

Conclusion: Instead of satisfactory awareness and knowledge of oral cancer and its clinical presentations, inadequate knowledge was observed about its risk factors. There is a need to introduce oral cancer education among university students.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Awareness*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Health Education*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Malaysia
  • Male
  • Mouth Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Mouth Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Mouth Neoplasms / psychology
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Students / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Universities
  • Young Adult