For cancer prevention and early diagnostics oncological awareness of the ordinary people is crucial. The knowledge of the problem is extremely important in young population. The aim of the study was to assess the basic oncological knowledge of high school students.
The study was conducted among high school students in Olsztyn in Poland between April 2017 and April 2018. It was a part of a health promotion program focused on oncological education for high school students in Warmia and Mazury District. The examination was carried out at the beginning of lectures conducted by medical students. The respondents filled in a questionnaire especially prepared for this study. Participation in the study was voluntary and anonymous. The chi-square test was used to compare the subgroups. A p-value <0.05 was considered significant. Statistical analysis was done using STATISTICA software 13.1 (Statsoft, Poland).
The study was done on 227 students (age 17-18 years) from 5 high schools in Olsztyn. There were 125 female and 101 male (one unknown). Almost 80% of responders could correctly defined cancer disease. 153 students (67%) believed genetic predispositions to be the greatest factor affecting cancer morbidity. At the same time, 183 responders (81%) claimed that people have an impact on cancer development. But only 19% students indicated smoking as an important cancerogenous factor and none alcohol. Diet and physical activity influence on cancer prevalence were known only by 5 and 2 students, respectively. Over half of students (58%) thought they lead a healthy lifestyle, but almost 1/3 respondents smoke cigarettes. All students except eight (97%) believed that early detected cancer can be successfully treated. There was no difference depending on sex and place of residence in all questions.
The impact of genetic predispositions in neoplastic diseases seems to be overestimated by high school students. Students knew that lifestyle has an impact on cancer disease, but they did not associate smoking, alcohol, diet, physical activity with a healthy lifestyle. There is a need for more education about cancer and its’ prophylactic among high school students in Poland.
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All authors have declared no conflicts of interest.