FACTORS INFLUENCING ESOPHAGEAL CANCER PATIENTS’ TREATMENT SEEKING BEHAVIOUR AND ADHERENCE TO TREATMENT AT THE UGANDA CANCER INSTITUTE, KAMPALA
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Background: Esophageal cancer is the eighth most common cancer globally. Treatment options available in Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) include; surgery, chemotherapy and chemo-radiation and these leads to better outcome. The Uganda government provides free drugs for esophageal cancer; however, patients continuously present late for treatment and most time do not stay to completion. This study aimed to explore factors influencing esophageal cancer patients’ treatment seeking behavior and adherence to treatment at the Uganda Cancer Institute, Kampala. Methods: The study was conducted at the Uganda Cancer Institute. It was across sectional facility-based study that employed qualitative techniques of data collection and analysis. A total of 17 Key informant and 16 in depth interviews were conducted with persons with knowledge on the subject matter and patients with cancer of the esophagus respectively. Non probability purposive sampling methods were used to select the patients and key informants. The key study outcome was adherence to esophageal cancer treatment packages. The data was coded and a content theme analysis was conducted. Results: The patients were deterred from seeking or adhering to treatment because of stigma, stress, loss of employment due to the disease, lack of knowledge about the disease, long distance to the health facility, and failure to recognise disease symptoms early. Care seeking and adherence to treatment was promoted by trust in health workers and the desire to get better. Conclusion: Patient experiences, and perceptions, individual patient factors coupled with health system factors influenced esophageal cancer patients’ treatment seeking behavior and adherence to treatment.