Fifty per cent of Hongkongers worry about getting colon cancer - and that's nowhere near enough, doctors say, given it is the second commonest cancer in the city. Worse, barely a quarter of those questioned in a survey, and only one in 20 of those in the most vulnerable age group - those 55 and over - could recall being tested for the condition. 'Most of those surveyed had been tested for hypertension, diabetes, cholesterol and, in the case of women, had had Pap smear tests for cervical cancer,' said Benjamin Wong Chun-yu, chairman of the Hong Kong Digestive Foundation's research committee, which commissioned the survey. 'Compared to all other health concerns as well as other cancers, colon cancer screening is much neglected in Hong Kong.' Obesity, lack of exercise and high meat consumption contribute to the cancer's prevalence. Professor Wong said 3,519 people were diagnosed with it in 2002. Half of those surveyed said they would probably go for tests for colon cancer if they were free of charge. 'This is very sad. On the reasons why they would not have a screening test, 30 per cent said they have no symptoms and so they think there is no need. Twenty per cent are afraid of the discomfort associated with the tests,' said Professor Wong, who is an associate professor in the University of Hong Kong's faculty of medicine. Professor Wong said by the time symptoms for colon cancer occurred, the cancer would have reached a late stage. Screening detects the pre-cancerous stage of the condition, which is easier to cure. He said people were likely to undergo screening for colon cancer if they were worried about contracting the condition or if there was a history of colon cancers in their family. Darwin Chen Tat-man, the foundation's public health education committee chairman, said: 'We are surprised knowledge about colon cancer is so limited.' The telephone survey of 1,033 people, aged 18 to 80, was carried out from January 2002 to January 2003. The results were published online in last month's issue of the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology.