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Women with ovarian cancer described waiting for recurrence, facing the diagnosis of recurrence, managing treatment related concerns, and attempting to regain control

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 QUESTION: How do women with ovarian cancer experience cancer recurrence?

Design

Qualitative study.

Setting

Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Participants

18 women (age range 35–73 y) with ovarian cancer were identified through 2 major cancer centres and a local ovarian cancer support group.

Methods

Data were collected through 1 hour semistructured telephone interviews. Questions related to diagnosis and treatment, treatment decisions, acquisition of information and supportive care, effects of illness, and lifestyle changes. Interview data were transcribed verbatim and reviewed by the 3 authors, who identified themes arising from an inductively derived coding scheme.

Main findings

4 main themes emerged: waiting for recurrence, facing the diagnosis of recurrence, managing treatment related concerns, and attempting to regain control. (1) Waiting for recurrence. Most women were aware of the risk of recurrence at the time of diagnosis, having learnt about survival rates from books, pamphlets, the internet, physicians, and other patients. Women had mixed feelings about knowing these statistics at a time when they were trying to deal with their cancer diagnosis and treatment. Some did not want to hear the statistics because they caused fear and anxiety, particularly regarding recurrence at follow up. However, foreknowledge of the possibility did not prepare women for news of a recurrence, which evoked feelings of being overwhelmed, devastated, and shocked. (2) Facing the diagnosis of recurrence. Some women had …

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