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Health seeking behavior of lung cancer patients receiving treatment at a tertiary cancer institute: a study from North India

Vijay Kumar Barwal; Salig Ram Mazta; Anita Thakur; Rajeev Kumar Seam; Manish Gupta.

Abstract
Background: The morbidity and mortality of lung cancer is directly related to its stage at diagnosis. Only 15% of lung cancers are detected at a stage amenable to curative resection and the overall five-year survival rate is merely 16%. Early diagnosis of lung cancer results in lower stages, less intensive treatment and improved survival as well as it is less costly.

Objectives: The aim was to track treatment seeking behavior of lung cancer patients and to study the socio-demographic profile of these patients and their relationship with treatment seeking behavior.

Materials and Methods: All the newly registered lung cancer patients >18 years who came for treatment at our institute during the study period ie from 1st September 2011 through April 2012. Data was analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics.

Results: Out of 91 patients included in the study, 73 (80.2 %) were males and 18 (19.8 %) were females. The mean age of the study population was 59.24 ± 10.53 years and the median age was 60 years. Commonest presenting symptoms were cough (72.5 %), dyspnoea (63.7%) and pain chest (61.5%). The mean duration of symptoms was 3.5 months. We found that 42.9% patients reported within one week of appearance of first symptoms, 19.7% between one week and one month and 37.4% after one month. As the age of patients increased the odds of seeking treatment before one month, decreased. On the other hand as the socio-economic status improved, the odds of seeking treatment earlier also decreased. A significant difference was found in married patients, who sought treatment earlier than those who were single/divorced or widowed (p=0.02). 50% patients thought it was a minor cough and cold which would get cured by itself or by minor treatment. 48% said that there was a delay in diagnosis and referral.

Conclusion: The findings indicate an urgent need for public health awareness that targets increasing awareness and recognizing symptoms suggestive of lung cancer. Further strengthening of health facilities with the provision of infrastructure with recent diagnostic modalities and manpower is needed which may help to decrease the delay in diagnosis and hence early referral.

Key words: Treatment seeking behavior;Lung cancer symptoms



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