To our knowledge, this may be the first questionnaire-based study to investigate common cancer knowledge among health science students in Japan and Vietnam. Our study showed that the cancer knowledge level of Japanese students was generally higher than that of Vietnamese students, except for awareness of HPV infection. This difference may be due to the fact that the number of new cancer patients in Japan is 5.6 times higher than in Vietnam, and the number of deaths from cancer is approximately 3.5 times higher. . Additionally, the Japanese government is focusing on promoting cancer-related education in all grades. In 2014, the Japanese Society of School Health Sciences established an initiative to consider cancer education from the perspective of “learning the importance of health and life, managing health properly, and acquiring correct knowledge about cancer.” A “Review Committee on Cancer Education” has been established. “Correct knowledge for cancer patients” . Furthermore, according to Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, an international survey was conducted in 2021 on the implementation status of cancer education nationwide. . This survey was conducted at a total of 36,194 public and private elementary schools, junior high schools, compulsory education schools, high schools, secondary education schools, and special needs schools. The results showed that 7.6% of elementary schools, 10.6% of junior high schools, and 7.1% of high schools provide cancer education to students.On the other hand, school education in Vietnam focuses more on infectious diseases and sex education than on cancer education. . This may be the reason why Vietnamese students have less knowledge about cancer than Japanese students, except for their awareness of HPV infection. Another reason is that Japan has been implementing a population-based cancer screening program since 1982. This could also help Japanese students become more aware about cancer.
In our study, both Japanese and Vietnamese students had limited knowledge about HPV infection. Previous studies have also reported that undergraduate students, including medical students, have insufficient knowledge about HPV infection and the HPV vaccine. [15,16,17,18,19,20]. Furthermore, HPV vaccination rates in Japan have declined significantly since 2013, coinciding with negative campaigns against vaccination. Cervical cancer prevention has been replaced with anti-vaccine content, including information about vaccine side effects, alleged victims, and related lawsuits. In contrast, pro-vaccine content such as WHO safety statements received little media attention. . Therefore, the dissemination of information about HPV has not been observed across multiple media platforms. This may be related to the limited knowledge of HPV among the Japanese students who participated in our study. As future health care providers, it is important that health science students are well educated about her HPV infection, HPV vaccination, and effective recommendations. Increasing awareness of the association between HPV and her HPV-related cancers may increase HPV vaccination rates. This is especially important in low-resource countries like Vietnam, which lack a systematic screening program for cervical cancer.A study examining Vietnamese women’s knowledge of cervical cancer and HPV vaccines reveals an alarming lack of understanding among women of childbearing age. . Therefore, our findings have significant implications for educational curriculum efforts to improve HPV-related knowledge among health science students. Upcoming campaigns in Japan and Vietnam will focus on educating students about HPV infection and the increased incidence of cervical cancer, as well as promoting the HPV vaccine as a safe and effective primary prevention strategy against this cancer. There is a need to emphasize vaccination.
Less than 50% of Vietnamese students in our study were aware of risk factors for stomach, breast, colon, and liver cancer. Remarkably, only 24.3% of Vietnamese students correctly identified the following relationships: Helicobacter pylori and stomach cancer. Vietnam has one of the highest infection rates among countries in Southeast Asia. Helicobacter pylori . Therefore, Vietnam’s medical education curriculum should place more emphasis on gastric cancer. Additionally, universities should hold cancer-related seminars and interactive workshops for students. Currently, the Health Service Center of Ho Chi Minh City University of Medicine and Pharmacy has already created a website dedicated to health education topics, including cancer, for students. We hope that these efforts will contribute to increasing cancer awareness among Vietnamese students. Our study also showed that only 48.5% of Japanese students correctly understood the relationship between estrogen-progestogen menopausal therapy and breast cancer. Therefore, in addition to increasing knowledge about HPV infection, medical education programs in Japan should also focus on breast cancer knowledge for students.
Our study found that female students had more knowledge about breast cancer, skin cancer, and endometrial cancer than male students. This is to be expected since breast cancer and endometrial cancer are cancers unique to women. Some studies also show that female students are more aware of HPV infection, uterine cancer, and breast cancer than male students. [10, 18, 24].Similarly, female medical students were found to have significantly better knowledge about HPV infection than male medical students. . A study by Castilho et al. They also demonstrated that female college students had more knowledge about the link between sunlight and skin cancer and had higher rates of daily sunscreen use than male students. .
Information sources regarding cancer knowledge also play an important role in increasing student awareness. In our study, Japanese students mainly obtained cancer information from television and websites, while Vietnamese students mainly relied on social networking services and websites. Other sources of information such as friends, teachers, newspapers, and magazines had low usage rates in both countries.These findings are consistent with another study conducted in the United States, which found that young people primarily search for cancer information through social media platforms. . Understanding these preferences and identifying reliable and easy-to-use sources of information is essential to reaching young people effectively.
Our study has several limitations. First, participants were recruited from only one public university in each country, so the results may not be generalizable to all first-year health science students. Second, there was a difference in the type of major between Japanese and Vietnamese students. To assess the impact of these differences, we compared her two groups of Vietnamese students: those with the same major as Japanese students and those with a Vietnam-specific major. Our study showed no statistically significant differences between the two groups, except for knowledge of the correlation between obesity and colon cancer. This showed that the difference in the majors of Japanese and Vietnamese students had little impact on the research results. Third, the questionnaire used in our study was relatively simple and mainly focused on general cancer knowledge and risk factors. This study is only a first step in investigating the background cancer-related knowledge of incoming health science students, and further research is needed to investigate the knowledge level of medical students as well as young people and adults. needs to be done. Furthermore, we hope that this study will lead to a re-evaluation of evidence-based medical education curricula for health science students. Therefore, the standard education institution plans to review these modifications and develop more effective and appropriate medical education programs for Japanese and Vietnamese students.