Exploring the knowledge of nasopharyngeal carcinoma among medical doctors at primary health care level in Perak state, Malaysia
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Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is among the commonest cancers in Malaysia. The prognosis for NPC like most other head and neck cancer is dependent on its staging. Majority of patients in Malaysia at the time of diagnosis are either at stage III or IV (27 and 47%, respectively). The lack of knowledge among primary care medical doctors regarding NPC may contribute to this delay in diagnosis. The aim of this study was to assess the knowledge of the primary care doctors in the state of Perak on the various aspects of NPC. The doctors at the primary care level in the state of Perak were recruited to take part in this study on a voluntary basis. A total number of 154 out of 198 doctors participated in this survey. They were given a questionnaire to fill in to test their knowledge on different aspects of NPC and its treatment. The overall respondents’ score was poor with a score of 67.5% on all sections. The doctors appear to be able to identify common presenting features of NPC with a mean score of 85.3% but for the uncommon presentations of NPC, the scores were poorer with 61.8%. In addition, 54.1% of the participants answered that they would refer a patient with symptoms suspicious of NPC after a period of 1 month from the onset of symptom. However, only 34% would refer within 2 weeks. Based on the results of this study, the authors feel that it is clear that the doctors posted in the primary care hospitals and clinics appear to have inadequate knowledge to diagnose and refer patients with suspected NPC. As early diagnosis can often lead to a better prognostic outcome, steps must be taken to raise the awareness among these doctors.
KeywordsNasopharyngeal carcinoma Delay diagnosis Knowledge Medical training General practitioners
The authors would like to acknowledge the assistance of Tuan Haji Amin from the Perak State Health Office for his assistance as a researcher. We would also like to thank Ms. Tan Pui San from the Center for Clinical Research, HRPB Ipoh for her help. Last but not the least, all the doctors from the health clinics and district hospitals who took the time from their busy schedules to answer our questionnaire.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare they have no competing interests.
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