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Public Health. 2011 Sep;125(9):609-15. doi: 10.1016/j.puhe.2011.03.014. Epub 2011 Jul 26.

Public awareness of colorectal cancer and screening in a Spanish population.

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  • 1Gastroenterology Department, Hospital Universitario de Canarias, Ofra s/n,38320 La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain.



To investigate screening intentions and previous uptake of colorectal cancer (CRC) screening tests in a general population in Spain; and to determine knowledge about CRC, risk perceptions, major barriers to screening and perceived benefits of screening.


Cross-sectional study.


Six hundred consecutive Spanish individuals over 50 years of age completed a questionnaire to determine their screening intentions, previous CRC diagnostic procedures, and knowledge about screening procedures, risk factors for CRC, 5-year prognosis, warning signs and symptoms, incidence, age-related risk and perceived barriers to screening.


Although 78.8% of subjects reported that they were willing to participate in CRC screening, only 12% had ever undergone a screening test, and none with screening intention. Awareness of a breast cancer screening test [odds ratio (OR) 1.67, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.04-2.70; P = 0.035], visiting a general practitioner in the preceding year (OR 3.08, 95% CI 1.86-5.08; P < 0.0001), awareness of risk factors (OR 2.32, 95% CI 1.49-3.61; P < 0.001), awareness of CRC signs or symptoms (OR 1.65, 95% CI 1.03-2.64; P = 0.04) and belief in the efficacy of CRC screening (OR 8.85, 95% CI 1.53-51.3; P = 0.01) were independent predictors for intention to participate in CRC screening. The most common reasons given for refusing screening were 'CRC tests might be dangerous' (28.2%), 'CRC tests might be painful' (17.9%) and 'feeling healthy' (16.2%).


Although reported willingness to undergo CRC screening was high, CRC knowledge and actual uptake of CRC screening were low. An educational intervention to reduce barriers and increase awareness could improve uptake of CRC screening.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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