Symptom appraisal and help seeking in males with symptoms of possible prostate cancer: a qualitative study with an ethnically diverse sample in London.

Prostate cancer mortality in Black males is disproportionately high. This problem may be overcome by reducing delays in the pathway to diagnosis, particularly those occurring before initial medical help seeking. A greater understanding of symptom appraisal and help seeking could support the development of targeted interventions for improving early presentation among Black males.

To provide an in-depth understanding of males' pre-consultation experiences following the onset of symptoms of possible prostate cancer, identifying both general trends as well as potential differences that may exist between Black and White males.

Qualitative study of 18 males (nine Black, nine White) in London, UK, who had recently seen their GP with urinary symptoms, erectile dysfunction, or haematuria.

Semi-structured interviews from a previous multi-methods study of primary care use by males with symptoms of possible prostate cancer were analysed using thematic framework analysis.

Symptoms were often interpreted by patients as unimportant. Most delays occurred due to the absence of reasons to seek help, which, in Black males, often stemmed from poor awareness of prostate cancer. This lack of awareness could have been a consequence of their reluctance to seek health information and discuss health issues with others in their social network. Friends and relatives played an important role in symptom appraisal and help seeking.

Cognitive biases, cultural stigmas, and everyday interpersonal interactions should be important areas at which to target strategies seeking to reduce delays and improve early presentation in males with possible prostate cancer, particularly Black males.

The British journal of general practice : the journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners. 2023 Mar 30 [Epub ahead of print]

Ben Shaw, Fiona M Walter, William Hamilton, Tanimola Martins

College of Medicine and Health, University of Exeter, Exeter., Wolfson Institute of Population Health, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, London; Primary Care Unit, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Cambridge, Cambridge.