Cancer is common and the leading cause of death worldwide, but lack of interest or irrational fear is deterring acquisition of useful knowledge. Delay in hospital visits and job loss may result from lack of the correct understanding in those concerned. Cancer education is important in providing accurate information for prevention and early detection of the disease. Cancer education will eventually lead to cancer incidence decline, and preservation of the work force. Unfortunately, cancer checkup rate is still low in Japan. To assess the effectiveness of cancer education in senior elementary school children, we examined the change of the educational effect over time.
We gave a lecture about cancer to 5th grade elementary school children age 10-11, separately in four groups of 32 students. We taught about cancer incidence, cancer prevention and the effect of medical checkup in 15 minutes. Each group (T1 was at 7 days after the lecture, T2 after 28 days, T3 after 49 days and T4 after 147 days) was queried just once. As a control, 71 students not receiving the lecture (C) were queried similarly. We assessed the memory of the lecture in groups T1 to T4 concerning cancer incidence, the impression of cancer and health checkup in groups T1 to T4 and C.
Retention of the memory of the lecture was self reported on a five score scale from 1 for poor to 5 for complete memorization. The average scores were 4.2: 3.9: 3.7: 3.6, for T1: T2: T3: T4, respectively, (T1 vs. T4, p = 0.041). Concerning cancer incidence, the percentage of correct answers were 37.5: 53.1: 25.0: 12.5: 9.9 for T1: T2: T3: T4: C, respectively. The average scores for fear of cancer, 1 weak to 5 strong, were 4.5: 4.4: 4.4: 4.3: 4.5 for T1: T2: T3: T4: C, respectively. About the eagerness to have health checkup as adults, 1 less to 5 more, 4.8: 4.4: 4.4: 4.1: 4.4, for T1: T2: T3: T4: C, respectively (T1 vs. T4, p = 0.01).
The cancer lecture for senior elementary school children was effective in spite of its brevity. However, the memory and the awareness for cancer declined with time. The impression of cancer was almost stable. Repeating the cancer education is important.
Clinical trial identification
Legal entity responsible for the study
Urasoe General Hospital
All authors have declared no conflicts of interest.