Expressions of cervical cancer-related signs and symptoms

Eur J Oncol Nurs. 2011 Feb;15(1):67-72. doi: 10.1016/j.ejon.2010.06.003. Epub 2010 Jul 31.


Background: Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women worldwide. Although developing countries are the hardest hit by cervical cancer, women living in Europe are also at risk for this disease.

Purpose of the study: The purpose of the study was to explore how women treated for cervical cancer at an academic hospital in Tshwane, South Africa, expressed their cervical cancer-related signs and symptoms during the initial consultation with health care professionals.

Methods and sample: A qualitative, exploratory and contextual research design was used. The sampling method was purposive and convenience. Self-reported data were gathered using semi-structured interviews. Diekelmann's hermeneutical analysis approach was used to analyze the data. The sample size totaled 12 (n = 12).

Results: Four themes emerged from the data-- ignorance, communication, delayed diagnosis and expectations. All participants lacked knowledge and awareness of the signs and symptoms of cervical cancer. The majority failed to communicate the real nature of their signs and symptoms and was only diagnosed after several visits to the primary health clinic.

Conclusion: Nurses should use every opportunity to screen women for cervical cancer as the woman might not be able to express her cervical cancer-related signs and symptoms.

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Communication Barriers*
  • Delayed Diagnosis / psychology*
  • Delayed Diagnosis / statistics & numerical data
  • Developing Countries
  • Early Detection of Cancer
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening
  • Middle Aged
  • Nurse's Role
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / ethnology*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Professional-Patient Relations*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Self Report
  • South Africa / epidemiology
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / complications
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / ethnology*
  • Women / education
  • Women / psychology*