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Risk factors for common cancers in Nigeria:Knowledge, attitudes and practice among secondary school students in Kaduna, Nigeria


Sa’adatu T. Sule1*, Sani M. Shehu1and Josephine E. Ukwenya2

Cancer is an important cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide and is increasingly becoming a major public health issue in developing countries including Nigeria. The objective of this study was to assess the knowledge, attitudes and practice of cancer risk factors among secondary school students with the aim of promoting healthy lifestyles. A structured self questionnaire was administered to 405 senior secondary school students who consented to participate. Data obtained were analysed using MINITAB and Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) statistical packages. A significant proportion (27.9%) did not know that cancer can result from habits learned in youth and there was poor knowledge about sexually related risk factors (early sexual exposure, repeated sexually transmitted infections, promiscuity). There was inaccurate knowledge about causes of cancer with 18.8% believing that cancer is caused by evil spirits. The commonest cancer risk factors practiced by the students were early sexual exposure (11.6%), smoking (9.6%), alcohol ingestion (6.9%), and promiscuity (6.4%). There is room for improvement of knowledge and attitudes about cancer risk factors among adolescents in order to minimize adoption of risky lifestyles. There is a need to educate adolescents on cancer risk factors and integrate promotion of healthy lifestyles in health-related activities targeted at young people.


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