Signs of Aging or the Vague Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer?

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Abstract

Purpose/Objectives:

To explore the feelings that occurred at the same time as the vague physical symptoms of ovarian cancer.

Research Approach:

Qualitative, descriptive methodology.

Setting:

University cancer institute in southeastern United States.

Participants:

24 women (ages 39-78) diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Most were Caucasian, were diagnosed at stage II-III, had a college-level education, and had health insurance. Eighty-three percent did not know the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer prior to diagnosis, and 91% had no family history of the cancer.

Methodologic Approach:

SPSS* (version 18.0) was used to summarize the demographic characteristics and qualitative descriptive content analysis to identify and summarize themes in the narrative data.

Findings:

Two themes were noted in the handwritten answers provided by the women: (a) “thought symptoms were aging” and (b) “felt or knew something was not right.”

Conclusions:

Findings demonstrate and reinforce that a need exists for education regarding signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer among the general population as well as the common providers of women’s health care.

Interpretation:

Education campaigns on signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer and normal aging are necessary so women are empowered with knowledge and healthcare providers can suspect and evaluate the symptoms.

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