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Identifying the reasons for delayed presentation of Pakistani breast cancer patients at a tertiary care hospital

Authors Gulzar F, Akhtar MS, Sadiq R, Bashir S, Jamil S, Baig SM

Received 16 July 2018

Accepted for publication 24 October 2018

Published 29 January 2019 Volume 2019:11 Pages 1087—1096


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Ahmet Emre Eskazan

Faisal Gulzar,1,2 Muhammad Shoaib Akhtar,1 Rafshan Sadiq,3 Sajid Bashir,1 Sajida Jamil,2 Shahid Mahmood Baig4,5

1Department of Pharmacology, College of Pharmacy, University of Sargodha, Sargodha, Punjab, Pakistan; 2Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Pharmacy, The University of Lahore, Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan; 3Punjab Institute for Nuclear Medicines (PINUM) Cancer Hospital, Faisalabad, Punjab, Pakistan; 4Human Molecular Genetics Laboratory, Health Biotechnology Division, National Institute for Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (NIBGE), Faisalabad, Punjab, Pakistan; 5Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences (PIEAS), Islamabad, Punjab, Pakistan

Background: Delay in seeking health care by breast cancer patients is associated with advanced stage of disease at presentation and poor survival rates. This study aimed to identify the reasons for delayed presentation and their association with various sociodemographic variables.
Methods: A total of 200 female patients with abnormal clinical findings, ie, lump or palpable mass, were consecutively invited for this study. Diagnostic delay was defined as a consultation with a health care provider more than 3 months from the appearance of the first symptoms. Sociodemographic variables, presenting symptoms, knowledge about diseases and its symptoms, time between seeking medical attention after appearance of symptoms and causes of delayed presentation were investigated. Chi-squared and logistic regression tests for significance and associations were used.
Results: Among 125 women with breast cancer fulfilling the inclusion criteria, aged 24–75 years, 88.8% (n=111) presented late (≥3 months) and 59% presented with advanced stage of disease (stage III/IV). The majority (65.6%) were older than 40 years of age, 99.2% were married, 60.8% had <8 years of education, 67.2% had poor social status, and 64.8% had a negative family history of any cancer type. Almost all patients (96%) complained about the presence of a painless lump in their breast. Ignorance of disease or the presence of painless lumps in the breast and low financial resources for therapy (81.1%) were the main variables associated with delayed presentation. Educational factors (P<0.001, OR 4.682) and social status (P<0.001, OR 1.8) were also associated with delayed presentation.
Conclusion: Our study highlighted the variables associated with delayed presentation in Pakistani breast cancer patients. A significant number of patients presented late owing to misconceptions and poor knowledge about the disease and its symptoms, while illiteracy and poor social status were the major contributing factors for delayed presentation, resulting in an advanced presentation of disease and ultimately a decreased survival rate.

Keywords: breast cancer, painless lump, social status, illiteracy, survival rate

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