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Ovarian cancer symptom awareness and anticipated delayed presentation in a population sample

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Kate E Brain, S M Smits, Alice E Simon, Lindsay Forbes, Chris Roberts, Iain Robbe, J Steward, C White, Richard Neal, J Hanson

Original languageEnglish
Article number171
Number of pages10
JournalBMC Cancer
Volume14
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2014

King's Authors

Abstract

Background: While ovarian cancer is recognised as having identifiable early symptoms, understanding of the key determinants of symptom awareness and early presentation is limited. A population-based survey of ovarian cancer awareness and anticipated delayed presentation with symptoms was conducted as part of the International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership (ICBP). Methods: Women aged over 50 years were recruited using random probability sampling (n = 1043). Computer-assisted telephone interviews were used to administer measures including ovarian cancer symptom recognition, anticipated time to presentation with ovarian symptoms, health beliefs (perceived risk, perceived benefits/barriers to early presentation, confidence in symptom detection, ovarian cancer worry), and demographic variables. Logistic regression analysis was used to identify the contribution of independent variables to anticipated presentation (categorised as < 3 weeks or ≥ 3 weeks). Results: The most well-recognised symptoms of ovarian cancer were post-menopausal bleeding (87.4%), and persistent pelvic (79.0%) and abdominal (85.0%) pain. Symptoms associated with eating difficulties and changes in bladder/bowel habits were recognised by less than half the sample. Lower symptom awareness was significantly associated with older age (p ≤ 0.001), being single (p ≤ 0.001), lower education (p ≤ 0.01), and lack of personal experience of ovarian cancer (p ≤ 0.01). The odds of anticipating a delay in time to presentation of ≥ 3 weeks were significantly increased in women educated to degree level (OR = 2.64, 95% CI 1.61 – 4.33, p ≤ 0.001), women who reported more practical barriers (OR = 1.60, 95% CI 1.34 – 1.91, p ≤ 0.001) and more emotional barriers (OR = 1.21, 95% CI 1.06 – 1.40, p ≤ 0.01), and those less confident in symptom detection (OR = 0.56, 95% CI 0.42 – 0.73, p ≤ 0.001), but not in those who reported lower symptom awareness (OR = 0.99, 95% CI 0.91 – 1.07, p = 0.74). Conclusions: Many symptoms of ovarian cancer are not well-recognised by women in the general population. Evidence-based interventions are needed not only to improve public awareness but also to overcome the barriers to recognising and acting on ovarian symptoms, if delays in presentation are to be minimised.

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