Public knowledge about the risk factors of cancer is essential to ensure an effective prevention program. This study aims to explore the knowledge of the general Saudi population about cancer and carcinogens and to determine the misconceptions about carcinogens to help create appropriate evidence-based prevention awareness programs. A questionnaire of 63 questions related to biographic data, source of knowledge, risk factors, and the burden of cancer was distributed online. The internet was the most sought source for cancer-related information (75.2%). The inclusion of cancer-related subjects in the educational curriculum was believed to be the best way to educate children about cancer (48.4%). Knowledge about cancer risk factors was good overall for 10 out of the 27 risk factors assessed in the study, with cigarette smoking being the most well-known risk factor (91.5%), followed by hookah smoking (85.6%), and nuclear waste exposure (80%). However, only 16.3% of participants were aware of the risk associated with Oral Contraceptive Pills (OCPs), and less than half of the participants knew the risk associated with poor physical activity. About 45% (44.9%) believed that envy and spiritual causes are associated with cancer. Most of the study participants (70%) considered cancer to be a significant health issue in Saudi, mainly due to the increasing incidence rate (44%). Conclusion: This study showed a good level of awareness regarding cancer risk factors and environmental carcinogens, which could serve as a roadmap for future awareness programs and studies targeted at the knowledge of other risk factors for cancer.
Keywords: cancer awareness; carcinogenic risk factors; carcinogens.