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Experiences of endocrine therapy after breast cancer surgery

Conference paper
Authors Susanne Ahlstedt Karlsson
Roger Olofsson Bagge
Ingela Henoch
Catarina Wallengren Gustafsson
Published in Annals of Oncology. Abstract Book of the 44th ESMO Congress (ESMO 2019) 27 September – 1 October 2019, Barcelona, Spain. Vol. 30, Suppl. 5, s. v840
ISSN 0923-7534
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Surgery
Institute of Health and Care Sciences
Language en
Subject categories Nursing


Background For patients diagnosed with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer, endocrine therapy (ET) is prescribed, which reduces recurrence and mortality rates (Early Breast Cancer Trialists’ Collaborative Group, 2011). Despite the prognostic benefits of ET, the adherence to treatment varies, and 30%–70% of the patients discontinue their treatment within five years (Daly et al., 2017; Tinari et al., 2015; Ursem et al., 2015), often during their first year of treatment (He et al., 2015), due to the fact that ET is associated with adverse side-effects (Regan et al., 2011). Methods The study was conducted in a surgical out-patient care unit at a hospital in Sweden. Inclusion criteria were women diagnosed with breast cancer and treated with ET after surgery. Forty-eight patients were invited to participate, of which 23 declined, thus 25 women were included. Seven focus group interviews, with two to five participants in each group, were conducted using an interview guide according to Krueger’s (2014) strategy. The interview guide contained six open-ended questions aiming to explore the women’s experiences of ET after breast cancer surgery. Inductive qualitative content analysis was used (Graneheim & Lundman, 2004). Results The analysis resulted in three categories that described the women’s experiences: the treatment “creates discomfort”; “promotes levels of management”; and “causes feelings of abandonment”. Women’s experiences of treatment could at first glance be seen as positive, as perceived protection, but after further analysis, a deeper meaning was identified: protection with reservation. When experiencing discomfort, the women were urged to manage the situation, although the mode of management sometimes varied. The women reported that they needed support, but when the support did not appear, they felt as though they had been abandoned. Moreover, knowledge about side-effects became an obstacle. The participants described feeling abandoned, but they also described their disease as “cancer light”. Conclusions Professionals need to explore the pre-knowledge and preconceptions that patients might have. This could be achieved by listening to the patient before providing them with information. The information needs to be customized specifically to each person. Funding Assar Gabrielsson’s Foundation, Herbert and Karin Jacobsson’s Foundation, and the Swedish Society of Nursing. Disclosure All authors have declared no conflicts of interest.

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