Presentation of breast cancer, help seeking behaviour and experience of patients in their cancer journey in Singapore: a qualitative study
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Abstract© 2020, The Author(s). Background: Little is known about the presentation, help seeking behaviour for breast cancer in Singapore. Nor was there a study exploring the experience of patients in their breast cancer journey. Methods: A qualitative interview study with thematic analysis, conducted with 36 patients. Results: There is no clear pattern of presentation for breast cancer by cancer stage at diagnosis, age and ethnicity in the cancer journey of this group of patients. Patients were diagnosed with early to advanced stages cancer regardless of when they presented or took up treatment in their cancer journey. The reasons patients sought medical attention also did not appear to differ between the stages of cancer diagnosed, ethnic and age. Without setting a measure to define early and late presentation, we found that women shared similar experience in their breast cancer journey, regardless of age, ethnicity and stage of cancer at diagnosis. Poor knowledge of breast cancer (symptoms and causes); few practised regular BSE; denial of symptom; fear of hospitalisation, diagnosis and treatment; worries and stress over financial burden of treatment; misinformation in magazine and online sources; diet; stress; caring responsibility; support network; and use of alternative medicine before and after diagnosis were identified in patients’ narratives. Strong social support; fear of being an emotional and financial burden for the family; and financial worries during treatment were also the recurring themes after diagnosis. Conclusion: A measure of breast cancer presentation - that accounts for the patient’s experience in the cancer journey, the time interval and tumour biology – that is meaningful to patients, clinicians and researchers is needed. For research on late and delayed presentation, details on BSE practice – how often, when and was it done correctly – will improve the accuracy of time delay interval. For the public, concerted efforts to improve knowledge of breast cancer, survival and prognosis for early-diagnosed cancer, and the importance of regular and correct technique to perform BSE, are critical and urgent to address the rising breast cancer incidence in the country.
CitationNg, C.W.Q., Lim, J.N.W., Liu, J. et al. (2020) Presentation of breast cancer, help seeking behaviour and experience of patients in their cancer journey in Singapore: a qualitative study. BMC Cancer 20, 1080 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12885-020-07585-8
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media LLC
Description© 2020 The Authors. Published by Springer. This is an open access article available under a Creative Commons licence. The published version can be accessed at the following link on the publisher’s website: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12885-020-07585-8
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/