Causes of Delay in Seeking Treatment in Patients with Breast Cancer in Iran: a Qualitative Content Analysis Study

  • Rastad, Hadis (Department of Epidemiology and Statistics, Faculty of Public Health, School of Medicine, Kerman Medical University) ;
  • Khanjani, Narges (Department of Epidemiology and Statistics, Faculty of Public Health, School of Medicine, Kerman Medical University) ;
  • Khandani, Behjat Kalantari (Department of Oncology, Shahid Bahonar Hospital, School of Medicine, Kerman Medical University)
  • Published : 2012.09.30


Background: In the Middle East, including Iran, breast cancer is the most frequent malignancy among women. Without treatment, a malignant breast tumor advances in stage, diminishing a woman's chances of survival. In this study we aimed to gain insight into the causes of delay in seeking treatment in patients with breast cancer. Methods: The participants in this qualitative, content analysis study were 10 women in whom a diagnosis of breast cancer in the stages of II b, III or IIV had been made. They were selected from patients of a major oncology clinic in Kerman, Iran. Data were collected by means of semi-structured interviews that lasted between 20 to 30 minutes. Sampling was discontinued when data saturation was achieved. Content analysis was conducted by classifying the data into themes and sub-themes. Results: The results of our study revealed several factors that interfered with patients' professional consultation seeking and prompt treatment. These factors included; lack of knowledge, fear of being diagnosed with cancer, not seeing oneself at risk, mental preoccupation and wrong diagnosis by physicians. Conclusions: This study suggests that women and even physicians need further information about breast cancer symptoms. Women need encouragement to seek medical advice when they encounter suspicious symptoms. Additionally, women may benefit from awareness of the pros of early detection and reassurance about the improvements in the success of breast cancer treatment.


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