Patient delay in presentation of possible cancer symptoms: the contribution of knowledge and attitudes in a population sample from the United Kingdom

Simon, A.E., Waller, J., Robb, K.A. and Wardle, J. (2010) Patient delay in presentation of possible cancer symptoms: the contribution of knowledge and attitudes in a population sample from the United Kingdom. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, 19(9), pp. 2272-2277. (doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-10-0219)

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Abstract

<p>Background: Qualitative studies implicate knowledge of cancer symptoms and attitudes towards help-seeking as important factors in patient delay. The present study uses quantitative data from a population-based survey to test the hypotheses that (a) a greater knowledge of early cancer symptoms is associated with a higher likelihood of having appraised a symptom as possibly due to cancer, and (b) more negative attitudes towards help-seeking are associated with a lower likelihood of having sought medical advice for that symptom.</p> <p>Methods: Two thousand and seventy-one adults were asked whether they had experienced a symptom that they worried might be cancer in the past 3 months, and if so, whether they had seen a doctor. Respondents also completed the Cancer Awareness Measure (CAM) assessing symptom knowledge and barriers to help-seeking.</p> <p>Results: Two hundred and thirty-six (11.4%) respondents reported having experienced a possible cancer symptom. In logistic regression analyses controlling for age, sex, and self-rated health, higher CAM symptom knowledge scores were associated with a greater likelihood of having experienced a possible cancer symptom (odds ratio = 1.09; 95% confidence interval, 1.01-1.17). Of those who had experienced a symptom, 75% (177/236) had seen a doctor. Higher scores on the CAM barriers scale were associated with being less likely to have seen a doctor (odds ratio, 0.74; 95% confidence interval, 0.63-0.87).</p> <p>Conclusions: Better knowledge of the signs and symptoms of cancer might help people recognize possible cancer symptoms and therefore reduce appraisal delay, whereas more positive attitudes towards help-seeking might reduce behavioral delay.</p> <p>Impact: Campaigns to educate the public about cancer symptoms and reduce help-seeking barriers could play a role in promoting early diagnosis.</p>

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Robb, Dr Katie
Authors: Simon, A.E., Waller, J., Robb, K.A., and Wardle, J.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > General Practice and Primary Care
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Mental Health and Wellbeing
Journal Name:Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention
Publisher:American Association for Cancer Research
ISSN:1055-9965
ISSN (Online):1538-7755
Published Online:26 July 2010

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