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Signs of Aging or the Vague Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer?

Anita Smith
Rodney P. Rocconi
Michael A. Finan
ONF 2012, 39(2), E150-E156 DOI: 10.1188/12.ONF.E150-E156

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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