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Cancer Pract. 2000 Jul-Aug;8(4):165-71.

Early postsurgery experience of prostate cancer patients and spouses.

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Toronto-Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



The authors describe the experience of men with prostate cancer and their spouses in the early recovery period after surgery.


As part of a longitudinal qualitative study, semistructured interviews were held with 34 patients who had prostate cancer and their spouses 8 to 10 weeks after surgery.


Five components of experience emerged from the interviews: 1) hearing news about the extent of their cancer after surgery influenced how patients viewed their cancer experience and, in many cases, their recovery; 2) men placed great emphasis on recovering their physical capacity quickly; 3) couples connected with each other through working out care routines and managing periods of irritability; 4) couples described a range of responses to surgery side effects and complications; and 5) the meaning of cancer varied for couples, with most seeing the experience as a temporary disruption.


Physicians, nurses, social workers, and other health professionals working with patients before and after prostatectomies may assist couples to prepare better for the early recovery period by being both sensitive to the men's need to recover physical capacity quickly while helping them to understand that recovery takes time. Accurate information about expected periods of irritability, side effects, and possible complications would diminish the likelihood of distress during this period.

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