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Specialist care was important for helping patients with cancer to live positively with malignant fungating wounds

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QUESTION

How do patients with cancer experience living with malignant fungating wounds (MFWs)?

DESIGN

Qualitative study using grounded theory.

SETTING

A medical centre in east Taiwan.

PARTICIPANTS

10 patients who were 42–72 years of age (mean age 54 y, 60% women), had an MFW present for >4 weeks (mean 9.9 mo, range 3–24 mo), did not have any diagnosed mental health issues or confusion, and were able to communicate in Chinese.

METHODS

In semistructured interviews, patients were asked about their experiences living with MFWs (mean 45 min). Initial questions concerned the impact of living with the wound, symptoms, information and education provided by health professionals, support from friends and family, and main experiences in having the wound. Interviews were audiotaped, transcribed, translated into English, and analysed using thematic analysis.

MAIN FINDINGS

5 themes emerged. Declining physical well-being. Patients felt a gradual change in their physical well-being with the progression of their cancer and wound. Odour from the wound caused physical and social distress. Patients also had leakage and wound-related pain …

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