Anticipated time to seek medical advice for possible lung cancer symptoms and barriers to timely presentation in Palestine: a national cross-sectional study.

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Elshami, Mohamedraed 
Sawafta, Nawras 
Mansour, Ahmad 
Alser, Mohammed 
Al-Slaibi, Ibrahim 

BACKGROUND: Lung cancer (LC) has poor survival outcomes mainly due to diagnosis at late stages. This study explored the anticipated time to seek medical advice for possible LC symptoms and barriers to early presentation in Palestine. METHODS: This cross-sectional study recruited adult participants from hospitals, primary healthcare centers, and public spaces of 11 governorates using convenience sampling. A modified, translated-into-Arabic version of the validated LC awareness measure was used to assess LC symptom awareness, the time needed to seek medical advice and barriers to early presentation. RESULTS: A total of 4762 participants were included. The proportion that would immediately seek medical advice for possible LC symptoms varied according to the symptoms' nature. For respiratory symptoms, this ranged from 15.0% for 'painful cough' to 37.0% for 'coughing up blood'. For non-respiratory symptoms, this ranged from '4.2% for 'unexplained loss of appetite' to 13.8% for 'changes in the shape of fingers or nails'. Participants with good LC symptom awareness were more likely to seek medical advice within a week of recognizing most LC symptoms. About 13.0% would delay their visit to see a doctor after recognizing an LC symptom. The most reported barriers were emotional with 'disliking the visit to healthcare facilities' (59.8%) as the leading barrier. CONCLUSION: LC respiratory symptoms were more likely to prompt early seeking of medical advice. Good LC symptom awareness was associated with a higher likelihood of help-seeking within a week. Educational interventions are needed to promote LC awareness and address the perceived barriers to early presentation in low-resource settings, such as Palestine.


Acknowledgements: The authors would like to thank all participants who took part in the survey.

Awareness, Barriers, Early diagnosis, Early presentation, Lung cancer, Palestine, Humans, Adult, Lung Neoplasms, Cross-Sectional Studies, Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice, Research Design, Emotions, Patient Acceptance of Health Care
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BMC Cancer
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Springer Science and Business Media LLC