Svendsen, Rikke Pilsgaard2; Paulsen, Maja Skov2; Larsen, Pia Veldt2; Hansen, Bjarne Lühr2; Støvring, Henrik3; Jarbøl, Dorte Ejg2; Søndergaard, Jens2
1 Department of Public Health - Department of Biostatistics, Department of Public Health, Health, Aarhus University2 Forskningsenheden for Almen Praksis, SDU3 Department of Public Health - Department of Biostatistics, Department of Public Health, Health, Aarhus University
a population-based, cross-sectional study
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Reporting of symptoms which may signal cancer is the first step in the diagnostic pathway of cancer diseases. Cancer alarm symptoms are common in the general population. Public awareness and knowledge of cancer symptoms are sparse, however, and many people do not seek medical help when having possible cancer symptoms. As social inequality is associated with cancer knowledge, cancer awareness, and information-seeking, our hypothesis is that social inequality may also exist in the general population with respect to reporting of cancer alarm symptoms. The aim of this study was to investigate possible associations between socioeconomic and demographic determinants and reporting of common cancer alarm symptoms. METHODS: A cross-sectional questionnaire survey was performed based on a stratified sample of the Danish general population. A total of 13 777 randomly selected persons aged 20 years and older participated. Our main outcome measures were weighted prevalence estimates of self-reporting one of the following cancer alarm symptoms during the preceding 12 months: a lump in the breast, blood in bowel movements, blood in urine, or coughing for more than six weeks. Logistic regression models were used to calculate unadjusted and adjusted odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals for the associations between each covariate and reporting of cancer alarm symptoms. RESULTS: A total of 2 098 (15.7%) of the participants reported one or more cancer alarm symptoms within the preceding 12 months. Women, subjects out of the workforce, and subjects with a cancer diagnosis had statistically significantly higher odds of reporting one or more cancer alarm symptoms. Subjects with older age and subjects living with a partner had lower odds of reporting one or more cancer alarm symptoms. When analysing the four alarm symptoms of cancer separately most tendencies persisted. CONCLUSIONS: Socioeconomic and demographic determinants are associated with self-reporting of common cancer alarm symptoms.