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Kolben, Thomas; Beyer, Susanne; Ghasemi, Sanaz; Hermelink, Kerstin; Meister, Sarah; Degenhardt, Tom; Himsl, Isabelle; Edler von Koch, Franz; Kolben, Theresa M.; Würstlein, Rachel; Mahner, Sven; Harbeck, Nadia and Hester, Anna (2021): Late Presentation at Primary Diagnosis of Breast Cancer: Patients' Personality Characteristics and Attitudes. In: Breast Care, Vol. 16, No. 4: pp. 343-349

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Introduction: Breast cancer (BC) is the most common cancer in women worldwide. Despite screening and information efforts, about 10% of patients present with tumor size T3 or T4 at primary diagnosis. Late presentation is associated with more advanced tumor stage and consecutively with worse survival rates. Objective: This study aimed to evaluate whether patients with a late presentation at primary BC diagnosis differ in their personality from those with early diagnosis. Methods: In this bicentric, observational study, personality traits, positive and negative affectivity, anxiety, spirituality, illness beliefs, and sociodemographic characteristics were assessed in BC patients who presented with T-stages 3 or 4 (late presenters) and T-stages 1 or 2 (controls) at initial diagnosis. Results: Forty patients (20 controls, 20 late presenters) were interviewed. Late presenters perceived their disease as long lasting and had significantly more positive affectivity in the current trait. Although no significant associations were found, there was a trend for late presenters to have higher education levels, less spiritual longing, less accurate explanation of their illness, less anxiety in the trait scale, and more conscientiousness than the controls. Conclusion: As patients with late presentation for BC differ in specific psychological and sociodemographic characteristics from patients with early BC, the findings of this pilot project warrant additional investigations to identify further specific characteristics and motivations. Identifying patients at risk for late presentation and encouraging them to accept an earlier diagnosis could help to improve their therapy and, finally, their outcome.

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