Increasing adolescents’ awareness of the contribution of modifiable lifestyle factors to cancer risk may influence life-long patterns of healthy behaviour. However, little is known about adolescents’ awareness of cancer risk factors and the effectiveness of awareness-raising interventions. This study assessed adolescents’ cancer awareness and the effectiveness of an existing cancer-specific school-based intervention delivered by Teenage Cancer Trust. The Cancer Awareness Measure was completed by 478 adolescents (male: 250, 52.3%) aged 11–17 years (mean: 13.8, standard deviation: 1.24) in four UK schools; 422 adolescents provided paired data 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after the intervention delivered in 3 schools, and twice 4 weeks apart in the fourth (control) school. Adolescents recognized on average 4.4 (of 11) cancer risk factors. With the exception of smoking, adolescents’ awareness of cancer risk factors was low. Awareness significantly increased after the intervention (4.6–5.7, P < 0.001). There was no significant change in the control school. Intervention effect was greater among females. This educational intervention is an effective way to raise adolescents’ awareness of cancer risk factors. However, further cross-sectional and experimental studies are required to definitively assess adolescents’ awareness of cancer risk factors and the effectiveness of this educational intervention.
We are grateful to the adolescents who completed the questionnaires, and parents and teachers for their support for the research. We also thank Petra Rauchhaus (University of Dundee) for her statistical review of the manuscript. Data collected for the purposes of this study are available through the UK Data Archive in accordance with the conditions of use of the CAM.
This independent study was funded by Teenage Cancer Trust which played no part in data collection, analysis or interpretation, or drafting and revising the manuscript.
- cancer risk