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Eur J Oncol Nurs. 2002 Sep;6(3):155-61.

The meaning of the breast cancer follow-up experience for the women who attend.

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The General Infirmary, Great George Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 3EX, UK.


Attendance at a breast cancer follow-up clinic is a standard part of the after care offered to women who have had breast cancer. This research was undertaken to elicit an insight into the experience of attending for follow-up after primary breast cancer. The research was undertaken using a qualitative approach using the method of phenomenological enquiry in order to gain understanding from the perspective of the women who attend follow-up clinic. Six women were interviewed. Interviews were taped and transcribed verbatim. Analysis of the transcripts indicated a cycle of emotions associated with attendance at follow-up clinic. Required attendance produced anxiety in women who were otherwise living free from anxiety about breast cancer recurrence. This anxiety appeared to create a need to attend in order to gain reassurance of continued well-being. Despite gaining reassurance all of the women in this study reported feelings of dissatisfaction with the follow-up clinic experience. In the current climate of over-extended and under-staffed clinics it may be timely to examine current practice for effectiveness in terms of physical and psychological impact on the patient and efficient use of healthcare resources.


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