Factors influencing early presentation to general practitioners for non-screen detected breast cancer

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Australian journal of general practice


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Women living in rural Australia have worse survival rates for breast cancer compared with their urban counterparts. Identifying factors that contribute to delayed presentation could help to reduce this disparity. This study aimed to identify and explore the differences in help-seeking behaviours between rural and urban women with non-screen-detected breast cancer. METHOD: We conducted a qualitative study consisting of semi-structured interviews with 20 women from New South Wales with non-screen detected breast cancer that was diagnosed within the past five years. RESULTS: There was little difference between rural and urban groups in terms of symptom appraisal and monitoring, social interactions, and personal and environmental factors. However, the presence of stoicism as a barrier was unique to rural women. Rural women also faced significant barriers in accessing general practice services that pertained to availability, cost and distance. DISCUSSION: GPs play a critical role in facilitating earlier presentation, and more research into rural stoicism is required. Continued investment in the rural primary care workforce will be key to improving access issues.

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