Influences on anticipated time to ovarian cancer symptom presentation in women at increased risk compared to population risk of ovarian cancer

As there is no routine ovarian cancer screening, promotion of help-seeking and symptom awareness is a potential route to early diagnosis. This study aimed to investigate the factors influencing women’s time to presentation with potential ovarian symptoms. Cross-sectional questionnaires which measured demographic characteristics, symptom knowledge, anticipated time to symptom presentation  and health beliefs were completed by a sample of women at increased familial risk (n=283) and population risk (n=1043). Results showed that associations between health beliefs and anticipated symptom presentation differed according to risk group. Women at increased risk had higher levels of worry, perceived susceptibility, and a greater degree of personal experience of ovarian cancer. They also had lower knowledge, and had longer anticipated time to symptom presentation than the general population sample. The current findings support the need for an ovarian cancer awareness intervention that increases confidence in symptom detection whilst managing worry. Future research could include developing an ovarian symptom information tool which tailors content according to risk.

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