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Int J Palliat Nurs. 2001 Mar;7(3):110-9.

The management of constipation in people with advanced cancer.

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Institute of Health and Community Studies, Bournemouth University, Bournemouth, UK.


Constipation represents a significant problem for people with advanced cancer. It ranks in the top three most uncomfortable symptoms experienced, causing pain and anorexia that ultimately result in misery. The negative impact upon the quality of life of the patient and their carers is significant. The key to the provision of effective care lies in the informed application of the nursing process, underpinned by a sound knowledge base in relation to the management of constipation. Theoretical knowledge enables appropriate preventative interventions to be planned in collaboration with other members of the multidisciplinary team. When preventative measures are not applied or are unsuccessful, informed assessment and care planning enables appropriate interventions to be applied in order to resolve constipation. This article will discuss the causes and management of constipation. The discussion focuses on assessment, setting goals with the patient and their carers, planning appropriate nursing interventions to support medical interventions and evaluating clinical outcomes.

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