Purpose/Objectives: To examine early symptom and diagnostic-seeking experiences of women newly diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
Design: Longitudinal descriptive.
Setting: Homes of families.
Sample: Purposive; 19 families were obtained by referrals.
Methods: Interviews and questionnaires; descriptive analysis.
Main Research Variables: Early symptoms and delays in diagnosis.
Findings: Families were 88% Caucasian and 12% African American. Almost two-thirds had annual incomes of $25,000 or more. The ages of the patients with cancer ranged from 28-73 years (X = 56 years). Delay between initial symptoms and diagnosis was X = 14 weeks. Early symptoms experienced by 95% of women were abdominal bloating, vague abdominal pain and "spots," indigestion problems, fatigue, and urinary problems.
Conclusions: Women usually experience a cluster of symptoms, unrecognized and discounted, which delays diagnosis.
Implications for Nursing: Pelvic assessments should be reformulated to conceptualize early symptoms, risk factors, and family cancer history as a dynamic, interconnected whole to guide and interpret ovarian health.