A/Prof Jennifer Moodley – Breast and cervical cancer symptom awareness in South Africa
Prof Jennifer Moodley
Title of the project
Breast and cervical cancer symptom awareness in South Africa.
The global cancer burden is projected to increase by 50% by 2030 and, disturbingly, most of the increase will occur in developing countries. Breast and cervical cancer are the leading causes of cancer morbidity and mortality among women in South Africa (SA), with the majority of patients presenting with late stage disease.
Studies have shown that for symptomatic cancer shorter time to presentation to a health care provider is associated with early stage disease and a better prognosis. Consequently understanding processes related to cancer symptom awareness and responses to symptoms are important in developing interventions to promote timely cancer diagnosis. Accurate measurement of cancer symptom awareness and beliefs will allow for the identification of knowledge and beliefs that need to be targeted in interventions. Internationally, research has shown that personal, disease and healthcare factors are associated with the timeliness of seeking care for symptomatic disease with primary care providers playing a pivotal role in cancer diagnosis and referral.
A challenge facing both patients and primary level providers may be the overlap between cancer symptoms and symptoms arising from common health conditions. Information on patient symptom (mis)interpretation and provider challenges to diagnosing symptomatic cancer in the South African setting is required to underpin interventions aimed at encouraging timely diagnosis.
The main objectives of this project are to measure community breast and cervical cancer awareness and beliefs in urban and rural setting in SA using a locally validated measurement tool; assess how symptom overlap with common infectious diseases influence community interpretation of cancer symptoms; and explore factors associated with primary health care provider interpretation and management of breast and cervical cancer signs and symptoms.
Quantitative and qualitative research methods will be used to meet the study objectives. Findings will contribute to the evidence base for the development of future interventions to promote timely diagnosis of symptomatic breast and cervical cancer in SA.