Factors affecting breast cancer treatment delay in Turkey: a study from Turkish Federation of Breast Diseases Societies
Canturk, Nuh Zafer
Baskan, Mazhar Semih
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Background: One of the most important factors in breast cancer (BC) mortality is treatment delay. The primary goal of this survey was to identify factors affecting the total delay time (TDT) in Turkish BC patients. Methods: A total of 1031 patients with BC were surveyed using a uniform questionnaire. The time between discovering the first symptom and signing up for the first medical visit (patient delay time; PDT) and the time between the first medical visit and the start of therapy (system delay time; SDT) were modelled separately with multilevel regression. Results: The mean PDT, SDT and TDT were 4.8, 10.5 and 13.8 weeks, respectively. In all, 42% of the patients had a TDT >12 weeks. Longer PDT was significantly correlated with disregarding symptoms and having age of between 30 and 39 years. Shorter PDT was characteristic of patients who: had stronger self-examination habits, received more support from family and friends and had at least secondary education. Predictors of longer SDT included disregard of symptoms, distrust in success of therapy and medical system and having PDT in excess of 4 weeks. Shorter SDT was linked to the age of >60 years. Patients who were diagnosed during a periodic check-up or opportunistic mammography displayed shorter SDT compared with those who had symptomatic BC and their first medical examination was by a surgeon. Conclusion: TDT in Turkey is long and remains a major problem. Delays can be reduced by increasing BC awareness, implementing organized population-based screening programmes and founding cancer centres.