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Cancer Nurs. 1998 Oct;21(5):364-9.

Cancer patients' reported experiences of suffering.

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  • 1Seinäjoki Polytechnic, Institute of Health Care, Seinäjoki, Finland.


This study describes the nature and content of experiences of suffering by patients with incurable cancer. The main body of data was collected in interviews. A structured questionnaire was administered for additional information. Three different dimensions were identified in patient experiences of suffering: physical, psychologic, and social. Suffering has a physical foundation, which was divided into two categories: that caused by the illness itself and that caused by treatment of the illness. The primary sources of physical suffering were fatigue, pain, and the side effects of chemotherapy. The causes of psychologic suffering lie in the physiologic changes associated with the disease and in the imminence of death. Psychologic suffering was most typically manifested in depression, which most of the patients suffered during the initial stages of the disease, when the disease metastasized, and when they were in a particularly poor condition. General deterioration and fear of infections very much restrict the social life of cancer patients, causing them to withdraw into their home or the hospital.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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