Introduction It is widely acknowledged by healthcare professionals, that patient’s health-related quality of life is significantly reduced for some time after resection of the oesophagus for cancer.1This includes physical, psychological and social functioning, and the factors examined are often physician-led. What is less well understood is the lived experience of these patients on a daily basis.2
Method This was designed as a phenomenological study, to examine a group of 10 people, purposively sampled, who have lived through a named experience; oesophagectomy for cancer. They were selected from a trust-held database between the dates of January 2006 and January 2009. There was a 90% response rate. There were specific exclusion criteria for patients with active or recurrent cancer.
In-depth interviews were arranged and audio-recorded. The interviews were subsequently analysed and themes were identified.
Results Patients identified an overall phenomenon of tiredness, eating problems and loss of pleasure in life which was multi-factorial. The factors could be separated into the following themes; experience of receiving a cancer diagnosis, accessing information, in-patient experience, physiological post-operative symptoms, perceptions of health professionals, psycho-social post-operative effects and positive framing and spirituality. Other experiences of significance were dumping syndrome, social and identity changes and problems related to flashbacks to intensive care.
Conclusion Implications for practice were identified. A need for increased access to Upper GI Clinical Nurse Specialists and specialist dieticians along with more tailored information-giving was highlighted. Patients experiencing distress related to intensive care flashbacks may need specialist psychological assessment. Both post-operative complications and perception of in-patient experiences appeared to affect quality of life during the first year after surgery. Acknowledgements to Dr Rob Monks, academic supervisor at University of Central Lancashire.
Disclosure of interest None Declared.
Viklund P, Wengstrom Y, Rouvelas I, Lindblad M, Lagergren J. Quality of life and persisting symptoms after oesophageal surgery. Eur J Cancer 2006;42:1407–14
Wainright D, Donovan JL, Kavadas V, Cramer H, Blazeby JM. Remapping the body: learning to eat again after surgery for esophageal cancer. Qual Health Res. 2007;17(6):759–771