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Global Disability Research Group Seminar Series

focusing on cross-disciplinary global disability research.
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2012 Seminar Series

Title: ‘Identifying factors involved in a longer time to help-seeking for gynaecological cancer symptoms'

Speaker: Ms Emma Lucy Low

Date & Time: Friday 23rd  March 1pm-2pm

Venue: G37 & G38


Gynaecological cancers collectively are a considerable burden in the UK. One year survival rates for three of the five gynaecological cancers (uterine, cervical and ovarian cancer) are argued to be significantly lower than the European mean survival rates. Stage at diagnosis affects survival rates, with earlier stage diagnoses associated with better rates of survival for all gynaecological cancers.

Stage at diagnosis has been associated with time to help-seeking (how long a patient takes to seek medical help after symptom presentation) , and time to help-seeking in turn has been associated with variables such as symptom awareness and risk factor awareness (levels of awareness of the risks associated with an increased chance of developing cancer). A review of the evidence revealed that there are gaps in our knowledge of awareness for these variables, and that some of the evidence may be outdated. Therefore, I analysed used data from a survey study to identify current cervical cancer risk factor and symptom awareness in the UK. This showed that awareness was low for both, which is concerning given their association with time to help-seeking (and the association between time to help-seeking and stage at diagnosis). A second survey study explored the relationship between symptom awareness and other variables and anticipated time to help-seeking for ovarian cancer symptoms. Again, awareness was low. However, some variables associated with time to help-seeking were identified.

For my future work, I aim to explore help-seeking behaviour (as opposed to intention to seek help) in gynaecological cancers, as well as the current prevalence of symptoms which may be indicative of a gynaecological cancer in the UK.

Emma Low completed a BSc in Psychology at Hull University and an MSc in Health Psychology at UCL. In between her BSc and MSc and following her MSc, she worked in various different Research Assistant roles. It was during her work as a Research Assistant at King’s College London that she developed an interest in cancer research, and in particular in a longer time to help-seeking (known in the literature as ‘Patient Delay’) for symptoms of cancer. Her MSc dissertation explored whether there were differences in the variables that are associated with patient delay across different cancers. Her current PhD explores a similar area.

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