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04-12-2017 | Ovarian cancer | Article

Influences on anticipated time to ovarian cancer symptom presentation in women at increased risk compared to population risk of ovarian cancer

Journal:
BMC Cancer

Authors: Stephanie Smits, Jacky Boivin, Usha Menon, Kate Brain

Publisher: BioMed Central

Abstract

Background

In the absence of routine ovarian cancer screening, promoting help-seeking in response to ovarian symptoms is a potential route to early diagnosis. The factors influencing women’s anticipated time to presentation with potential ovarian cancer symptoms were examined.

Methods

Cross-sectional questionnaires were completed by a sample of women at increased familial risk (n = 283) and population risk (n = 1043) for ovarian cancer. Measures included demographic characteristics, symptom knowledge, anticipated time to symptom presentation, and health beliefs (perceived susceptibility, worry, perceived threat, confidence in symptom detection, benefits and barriers to presentation). Structural equation modelling was used to identify determinants of anticipated time to symptomatic presentation in both groups.

Results

Associations between health beliefs and anticipated symptom presentation differed according to risk group. In increased risk women, high perceived susceptibility (r = .35***), ovarian cancer worry (r = .98**), perceived threat (r = −.18**), confidence (r = .16**) and perceiving more benefits than barriers to presentation (r = −.34**), were statistically significant in determining earlier anticipated presentation. The pattern was the same for population risk women, except ovarian cancer worry (r = .36) and perceived threat (r = −.03) were not statistically significant determinants.

Conclusions

Associations between underlying health beliefs and anticipated presentation differed according to risk group. Women at population risk had higher symptom knowledge and anticipated presenting in shorter time frames than the increased risk sample. The cancer worry component of perceived threat was a unique predictor in the increased risk group. In increased risk women, the worry component of perceived threat may be more influential than susceptibility aspects in influencing early presentation behaviour, highlighting the need for ovarian symptom awareness interventions with tailored content to minimise cancer-related worry in this population.

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