Abstract Background This study aimed to devise a Cancer symptoms Discrimination Scale (CSDS) suitable for China based on a cross-sectional survey. Methods The CSDS was developed using the classical measurement theory. A total of 3610 students from Yunnan province, China, participated in the cross-sectional survey. The test version of the scale was modified by the item analysis method, and after the official version of CSDS was developed, its reliability and validity were verified. A univariate analysis of variance and a multiple linear regression model were used to analyze the influencing factors of cancer symptoms discrimination among the university/college students. Results There were 21 items in total for the CSDS, including 3 subscales --- common clinical manifestations (11 items), physical appearance defects (6 items), and drainage tube(s) wearing (4 items). This CSDS had good validity (GFI = 0.930, AGFI = 0.905, RMR = 0.013, I-CVIs> 0.80, and the Pearson correlation coefficient was satisfactory.) and reliability (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.862, spearman-brown coefficient = 0.875). The multiple linear regression showed that certain factors may affect the students’ discrimination level against cancer symptoms (P
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