Factors affecting presentation and delay in patients with testicular cancer: results of a qualitative study

Psychooncology. Mar-Apr 1999;8(2):144-54. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1099-1611(199903/04)8:2<144::AID-PON349>3.0.CO;2-P.

Abstract

A qualitative study was undertaken with men treated for testicular tumours, to ascertain how they interpreted their symptoms and the factors which influenced a decision to consult a physician. The research was undertaken with six men who had been diagnosed as having testicular tumours. Interviews were also conducted with four wives and one mother. The findings showed that giving men information on testicular cancer may not guarantee early presentation. Symptoms were not generally attributed to cancer and the one patient who practised self-examination had delayed seeking help for 6 months. The extent to which symptoms affected the patient's lifestyle was also a factor in the decision-making process, as was the checking of symptoms with other family members. Wives were often pivotal in persuading men to seek help. The discovery of testicular symptoms produced emotional responses which included embarrassment and fear of both cancer and castration. There was evidence of strong feelings of masculine identity bound up with the appearance of 'normal' genitals. Provider-delay was identified in four cases and was associated with misattribution of symptoms by physicians and the failure to initiate specialist referral. Delay was under-recorded in the hospital notes in all cases where presentation was not immediate.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Self Concept
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Testicular Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Time Factors