The Symptom Experience and Self-management Strategies of Women Undergoing Cervical Cancer Treatment: A Qualitative Study

Mille Guldager Christiansen, Karin Piil, Mary Jarden

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BACKGROUND: Cervical cancer treatment modalities, such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and brachytherapy, often result in short- and long-term adverse effects such as nausea, fatigue, and sexual dysfunction. Chemotherapy and radiation are typically provided on an outpatient basis, requiring women to be more active in self-managing their symptoms at home.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to explore how women with cervical cancer experience symptoms and manage daily life during treatment.

METHODS: Individual interviews with 10 women diagnosed with cervical cancer and undergoing curative concurrent chemotherapy and radiation were carried out. Data analysis was conducted using a phenomenological-hermeneutic perspective, inspired by Ricoeur.

RESULTS: Three themes were identified based on the interviews: (1) new life perspectives, (2) suffering in silence, and (3) enhanced symptom self-management strategies.

CONCLUSION: Diagnosis and treatment create an opportunity for the women to critically reflect on their lives and to develop new life perspectives. During treatment, a mental transformation involving the use of various individual social, mental, and physical coping strategies allowed the women to manage their daily lives. This enabled self-management strategies, resulting in maintaining a sense of normalcy, trying to defy the adverse effects, and prioritizing themselves, their families, and the treatment.

IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: Women with cervical cancer undergoing oncological treatment need more specific and detailed information about the course of treatment, symptom management, adverse effects, and psychological reactions to better manage their daily lives. Healthcare professionals play a crucial role in supporting and guiding the women and in ensuring optimal symptom management.

TidsskriftCancer Nursing
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)12-20
Antal sider9
StatusUdgivet - 2022
Udgivet eksterntJa

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