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Background: Cervical cancer is increasingly recognized as one of the public health problems among women in developing countries. Most women with cervical cancer are seen in the health care system late with advanced stage of cancer. This study aims to explore the care seeking behavior of women with cervical cancer.
Methods: A qualitative study was conducted to explore the health seeking behavior of women with cervical cancer for patients who were admitted with cervical cancer in Tikur Anbessa Hospital. In-depth interviews were conducted with purposively selected participants. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and then translated into English and analyzed using a content analysis approach. The study period was from October 2013 to April 2014.
Results: The study found that women diagnosed with cervical cancer lack prior awareness about cervical cancer and availability of screening services. Moreover, decision making to seek medical care up on experiencing early symptoms seems to be delayed. Women reported the first symptom was unusual vaginal bleeding that forces them to seek care. The bleeding could be profound and accompanied by offensive odor. Fear of stigmatization could make women reluctant to seek timely care. Once treatment is started most women found it shockingly expensive.
Conclusion: Women lack general awareness about the nature and symptoms of cervical cancer. All health services providers serving women need to sensitize women to seek timely screening services and timely treatment services if cervical cancer is confirmed.
Keywords: Cervical Cancer, Health Seeking Behavior, Cervical Screening