Exploring Cancer Stigma Experienced by Pediatric Cancer Patients and Their Caregivers in Mwanza, Tanzania

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2023

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Abstract

Background: Cancer is grossly underreported and underdiagnosed in Africa, as only an estimated 57% of childhood cancers are diagnosed and survival rates for children with cancer are very low; an estimated 20% of children survive cancer in Africa. Several factors can lead to delays in treatment and discontinuing treatment such as lack of knowledge about cancer and negative beliefs or stigma about cancer. The research objective of this paper is to explore the types of stigmas faced by pediatric cancer patients and their families to inform interventions to reduce cancer stigma and increase survival rates of pediatric cancer patients in Tanzania.Methods: The study took place at Bugando Medical Centre (BMC) in Mwanza, Tanzania. The study sample included more than 300 patients who had completed treatment for pediatric cancer at Bugando Cancer Centre. This qualitative study was conducted using structured focus group discussions (FGD) and in-depth interviews (IDI) with patients and caregivers. Data was transcribed and translated into English and NVivo12 was used for qualitative data analysis and coding through an inductive and deductive approach. Results: The main themes of stigma found in both the FGDs and IDIs were severity of condition, avoidance, financial discrimination, beliefs about causes of cancer and stigma due to physical changes. These themes were found among all age groups and were experienced by both caregivers and patients. Conclusions: The results and data gathered from this study illustrate that cancer stigma is still an issue faced by pediatric cancer patients and their families. It also illustrates that, although some aspects of stigma have been described and addressed in the literature through adult stigma studies, there are aspects of stigma for pediatric cancer patients specifically that should be addressed. The data gathered here can be used to develop interventions targeted towards cancer stigma for pediatric populations, to reduce cancer stigma and increase survival rates of pediatric cancer patients in Tanzania.

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Posani, Suhana (2023). Exploring Cancer Stigma Experienced by Pediatric Cancer Patients and Their Caregivers in Mwanza, Tanzania. Master's thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/27863.

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