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Psychooncology. 2010 Aug;19(8):863-9. doi: 10.1002/pon.1632.

Experiencing one's body after a diagnosis of cancer--a phenomenological study of young adults.

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  • 1Department of Physical Therapy, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.


Young adults with cancer are still in the process of shaping their lives and are therefore at a vulnerable stage. Altered body image may change how patients cope with the disease and impact rehabilitation capacity.


To describe the essence of how young adults with cancer experience their bodies.


Interviews (12 informants), transcribed verbatim.


Giorgi's phenomenological method.


Identified themes: experience of 'physical body change', 'discomfort', 'the body at the moment without reflecting on the disease and treatment', 'body image' and 'grasping the illness'. Essences: The body as the bearer of life; conflict between age and disease; manifest changes in appearance, physically and mentally; the body no longer a whole; the body as influenceable and able to recover and heal.


These patients undergo physical and mental changes that affect their self-image and health-related life quality. Thus, future studies need to explore interventions that may enhance the individual perception of their body.

(c) 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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