Barriers to early presentation of breast cancer among women in Soweto, South Africa
Reported breast cancer incidence is rising in South Africa, where some women are diagnosed late and have poor outcomes. We studied patient and provider factors associated with clinical stage at diagnosis among women diagnosed at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital in Soweto, Johannesburg in 2015–2016.
From face-to-face interviewer-administered questionnaires we compared self-reported socioeconomics, demographics, comorbidities, risk factors, personal and health system barriers, and from patient clinical records, clinical staging, receptor subtype, and tumor grade among 499 consecutive women newly diagnosed with advanced stage (III/IV) breast cancer versus those diagnosed early (stage 0/I/II). Logistic regression models were used to identify factors associated with advanced stage at diagnosis.
Among the women, 243 (49%) were diagnosed at early and 256 (51%) at advanced stages. In the multiple logistic regression adjusted model, completion of high school or beyond (odds ratio (OR) 0.59, and greater breast cancer knowledge and awareness (OR 0.86) were associated with lower stage of breast cancer at presentation. Advanced stage was associated with Luminal B (OR 2.25) and triple-negative subtypes (OR 3.17) compared to luminal A, with delays >3 months from first breast symptoms to accessing the health system (OR 2.79) and with having more than 1 visit within the referral health system (OR 3.19) for 2 visits; OR 2.73 for ≥3 visits).
Limited patient education, breast cancer knowledge and awareness, and health system inefficiencies were associated with advanced stage at diagnosis. Sustained community and healthcare worker education may down-stage disease and improve cancer outcomes.
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- PLoS ONE