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Indian Journal of Medical and Paediatric Oncology
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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 40  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 89-94

Cancer awareness amongst nurses in a tertiary care hospital in North Delhi, India

1 Department of Medical Oncology, Max Superspeciality Hospital, New Delhi, India
2 Department of GI and Thoracic Oncology, Max Superspeciality Hospital, New Delhi, India
3 Max Superspeciality Hospital, New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Ranga Raju Ranga Rao
Department of Medical Oncology, Max Superspeciality Hospital, FC-50, C and D Block, Shalimar Bagh, New Delhi - 110 088
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijmpo.ijmpo_159_17

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Background: Nursing staff is the first of a constant line of contact with the patients and serve a prodigious responsibility. They play a pivotal role in disseminating knowledge to the patients in their daily practice. The present study was conducted to assess the level of cancer awareness among hospital nurses, identify the knowledge gaps and to incorporate them into training. Cancer is the most prominent cause of morbidity and mortality in both developed and developing countries like India where nearly 5 lakh deaths per year occur according to the recent GLOBOCAN data. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted among nurses in a tertiary care hospital in North Delhi. Of 458 employed nurses, 53.3% nurses working in the hospital participated in the study on a voluntary basis. A structured pretested questionnaire was administered to the study subjects. The questionnaires were coded, and information on personal details was not included. To warrant an effective measure of study outcomes, a Cancer Awareness Score (CAS) was developed. CAS of individual participants was achieved by dividing the total average score of each subject by ten that will help in quantifying the cancer awareness. A total of 244 nurses (53.3%) out of 458 employed were surveyed. A total of 146 forms were filled manually and 78 forms were completed electronically. Results: The return rate was 65.5% of the CAS. The completion rate was 100% and the rejection rate was zero. Of these 223 were female and 21 were male. The study subjects were in the age range of 19–56 years. Out of the 244 nurses, 75.81% were aware about general aspects of cancer. 77.5% of the nurses acknowledged that cancer is a serious health problem in India, and 79.9% were aware of the increasing incidence of cancer. About 66.4% subjects knew that cancer is a lifestyle disease. About 75.4% were aware that cancer is preventable, and 78.7% agreed that early detection is possible. About 23% believed that all lumps are cancerous. Almost 75% of the study subjects were aware of warning symptoms of cancer, nearly 90% of them were aware about all the causative factors. In this study, 21% of nurses were observed to have one or more myths about cancer during the survey. 23.4% believed that cancer is contagious; 25% of the study subjects believed that cancer is familial, 13.9% believed that cancer is due to God's curse! Another alarming observation is that they believe that procedures such as biopsy (17%) or surgery (21.7%) can spread cancer!. It is vital to work on removing these myths. Conclusion: Authors perceive that the study subjects lack adequate knowledge about cancer. The total average score of the study subjects was <75%. General awareness about cancer treatment needs to be reinforced. There is a pressing need to bust the myths by using appropriate information education communication strategies. Repeated training of nurses on cancer awareness is warranted. If well equipped with knowledge on cancer, they can further impart information to patients, caregivers and other hospital staff.

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