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Fam Pract. 2013 Feb;30(1):96-104. doi: 10.1093/fampra/cms040. Epub 2012 Sep 3.

Gynaecologic cancer symptom awareness, concern and care seeking among US women: a multi-site qualitative study.

Author information

  • 1Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4770 Buford Highway, NE, MS K-64, Atlanta, GA 30341, USA. cgelb@cdc.gov

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

With limited screening options, early detection of gynaecologic cancers can depend on women recognizing the potential significance of symptoms and seeking care.

OBJECTIVE:

We investigated women's concern about symptoms that might be related to gynaecologic cancers, the underlying conditions they associated with symptoms and their actual and hypothetical response to symptoms.

METHODS:

Fifteen focus groups with women aged 40-60 years were conducted in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and New York City. Participants were given an untitled list of symptoms that could indicate various gynaecologic cancers and asked if any would concern them, what could cause each and what they would do if they experienced any of them.

RESULTS:

Overall, participants expressed greater concern about symptoms clearly gynaecologic in nature than other symptoms. Participants generally did not associate symptoms with any form of cancer. Some women who had experienced symptoms reported waiting an extended period before seeking care or not seeking care at all. The belief that a symptom indicated a benign condition was the most common reason given for delaying or foregoing care seeking. Strategies participants reported using to supplement or replace consultations with health care providers included Internet research and self-care.

CONCLUSION:

Raising awareness of symptoms that can indicate gynaecologic cancers may lead to earlier detection and improved survival. In particular, women should be informed that gynaecologic cancers can cause symptoms that may not seem related to the reproductive organs (e.g. back pain) and that unusual vaginal bleeding should prompt them to seek care immediately.

PMID:
22948336
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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