Delays in seeking cancer diagnosis in relation to beliefs about the curability of cancer in patients with different disease locations

Psychol Health. 2013;28(2):154-70. doi: 10.1080/08870446.2012.700056. Epub 2012 Aug 2.


This study is aimed at investigating factors leading to delayed oncologic examinations versus immediate consultation with a physician in patients with various cancers. We analysed the results of a study of patients (n = 291) reporting for their first oncologic examinations. We conducted structured interviews containing social, demographic and clinical data, the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, the Beck Depression Inventory and Harris and Guten's health appraisal scores. Based on an analysis of decision-making trees, the results indicate that it is possible to predict beliefs regarding the curability of cancer and immediate versus delayed reporting to a physician. Delayed reports may be predicted on the basis of two factors: (1) a belief that cancer is incurable combined with increased state anxiety, 'good' or 'very good' self-appraisal of health and low depression; and (2) a belief that cancer is incurable accompanied by increased anxiety and depression. The characteristics of patients delaying a visit to the oncologist suggest the existence of three independent factors leading to both considerable (longer than nine months) and minor (up to one month) delays in seeking treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety / diagnosis
  • Delayed Diagnosis*
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Qualitative Research
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult