Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the most diagnosed cancer among males and third among females in Saudi Arabia, with up to two-thirds diagnosed at an advanced stage, according to the King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Centre. However, a new report shows Saudi Arabia has a high percentage of respondents (62.7%) who never took colon cancer tests, far higher than the global average of 54.1%.

State of Colorectal Cancer Screening

To uncover attitudes and the biggest challenges facing CRC awareness and screening, BGI Genomics released its State of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Report, a global survey report on the world’s third most common cancer.

This inaugural report seeks to better understand the global state of colon cancer awareness, as well as attitudes and actions towards CRC screening for average risk groups and CRC screening for hereditary genetic risk groups. 1,817 respondents from six countries and regions were surveyed: the United Kingdom (Western Europe), Hungary (Eastern Europe), Saudi Arabia (Middle East and Africa), Thailand (Southeast Asia), the Chinese mainland, and Hong Kong (North Asia).

Despite 51.5% reporting that there is insufficient information about colon cancer and 34.5% citing costs holding them back from CRC screening, the report reveals several optimistic findings. For example, 88.8% are more willing to go for screening upon learning about the five-year survival rate of 90% for early CRC detection.

“Early CRC detection offers the best outcome for individuals and healthcare policy. The treatment cost of late-stage CRC is sometimes more than ten times higher relative to early-stage CRC but with far lower survival rates,” says Yantao Li, PhD, BGI Genomics Director of Colorectal Cancer Screening Programme, South-East Asia. “That’s why more countries or regions are promoting early screening programs. For example, the European Commission is ramping up CRC screening programs.”

Other key takeaways from the report include:

Colonoscopy is a well-known screening test, but there is scope to enhance the awareness of other tests such as fecal tests. To promote this more affordable and flexible option, fecal testing awareness needs to be enhanced.

Doctors are the biggest factor for respondents to go for screening in the absence of symptoms. Approximately 62.5% of respondents say they will heed their doctor’s advice to undergo colon cancer screening. Therefore, it is vital that doctors are made more aware of CRC symptoms, ask the right questions to identify potential hereditary genetic risk, and offer patients a range of screening options, to fit different lifestyles and budgets.

Photo: BGI Genomics