Vol 85, No 1 (2014)

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Reasons for delay in treatment of breast cancer detected due to breast self-examination in women from the Lubelskie Region

Anna Brzozowska, Maria Mazurkiewicz, Dariusz Duma, Tomasz Mazurkiewicz, Wojciech Brzozowski
DOI: 10.17772/gp/1684
Ginekol Pol 2014;85(1).


Objectives: A delay in diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer patients is observed despite access to modern diagnostic methods. The aim of the study was to evaluate time between the first symptoms of breast cancer and treatment commencement, as well as to analyze reasons for the delay. Materials and methods: The research was conducted on 260 breast cancer patients treated at the Oncology Center in Lublin between 2008 and 2011. ‘Patient delay’ was defined as the time gap of >3 months between first symptoms of cancer and the doctor’s appointment and ‘system delay’ as the time gap of >1 month between the first medical consultation and commencement of treatment. Results: Mean patient delay was 32.2 ± 63.8 weeks. The main reasons were: disregard of symptoms (51%) and fear of being diagnosed with cancer (48%). Factors which significantly influenced the length of patient delay included: age >65 years, non-regular gynecologic care, lack of prior cancer screening and lack of family history of breast cancer. Mean system delay was 3.1 ± 2.9 weeks. Tumors < 5cm in diameter and clinical presentation other than a tumor, significantly influenced the system delay. Conclusions: A significant delay in diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer remains to be noted. Delay in seeking medical help was observed in 20% of the patients, whereas the referral was delayed due to system fault in 38% of the cases. Contrary to popular belief, patient delay (mean 32.2 ± 63.8 weeks) is 10 times longer than system delay (3.1 ± 2.9 weeks), suggesting an urgent need for further education of the general public and creating more accessible medical care.

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