Women's narratives of helpseeking for breast cancer

Cancer Pract. Jul-Aug 1995;3(4):219-25.

Abstract

One-third of women with self-discovered breast cancer are symptomatic for 3 months or more before seeking evaluation. Few studies examine women's accounts of this important time. Using narrative analysis in the style of Labov and Waletzky, breast cancer cases from a larger mixed-tumor sample of patients receiving chemotherapy were examined for the details of breast cancer symptom discovery and the events relevant to the timing of diagnosis and treatment. The majority (56.3%) of women in the sample sought evaluations within days, many proceeding to immediate diagnosis. Factors cited by women as influencing the delayed timing of initial provider evaluation were that they attributed the symptoms to a benign process, and they perceived gender role-related constraints. Many women in this younger-aged sample had false-negative mammographic examinations, and many reported receiving false reassurance from providers on initial consultation visits. Women who delayed evaluations sought them only as symptoms advanced.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy
  • Breast Self-Examination*
  • Defense Mechanisms
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Role