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Indian J Palliat Care. 2015 Sep-Dec;21(3):349-54. doi: 10.4103/0973-1075.164893.

Symptoms experienced by cancer patients and barriers to symptom management.

Author information

1
Department of Community Health Nursing, Manipal College of Nursing, Manipal, Karnataka, India.
2
Head of the Institution, Manipal College of Nursing, Manipal, Karnataka, India.
3
Department of Radiotherapy and Oncology, Kasturba Medical College Hospital, Manipal University, Manipal, Karnataka, India.
4
Department of Surgery, Kasturba Medical College Hospital, Manipal University, Manipal, Karnataka, India.
5
Department of Biochemistry, Kasturba Medical College Hospital, Manipal University, Manipal, Karnataka, India.
6
Department of Child Health Nursing, Manipal College of Nursing, Manipal, Karnataka, India.
7
Department of Community Medicine, Kasturba Medical College Hospital, Manipal University, Manipal, Karnataka, India.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

People living with cancer experience wide variety of symptoms. If symptoms are not managed well, it may hamper an individual's ability to continue his or her activities of daily life. Treatment of symptoms relieves suffering and improves the rate of recovery as well as the quality of life.

OBJECTIVES:

To assess the symptoms of suffering among cancer patients and to identify the perceived barriers to their symptom management.

MATERIALS AND METHODS:

A cross-sectional study was carried out among 768 cancer patients selected by stratified sampling with a proportionate selection from each stratum. Data were collected from cancer patients by interview technique using structured validated questionnaire.

RESULTS:

Majority of the samples (30.2%) belonged to the age group of 51-60 years, most of them were diagnosed with head and neck cancer (40.1%) and 57.7% had stage III disease. The majority of the patients studied had pain (77%), tiredness (96.5%), disturbed sleep (96.4%), weight loss (63.3%), and irritability (85.7%). Most of the patients had lack of appetite (89.4%), feeling of sadness (96.6%), worry (94.5%), and feeling of nervousness (82.8%). Majority of the patients had some misconception regarding symptoms, that is, increasing pain signifies disease progression (92.7%), medicine to control pain may weaken the immune system (89.9%) and pain is inevitable for cancer patients (78.5%). Seventy-seven percent of samples reported that the anxiety or depression is expected after the diagnosis of cancer.

CONCLUSION:

This study provides an overview of symptoms among cancer patients and barriers experienced by them.

KEYWORDS:

Barriers; Cancer patients; Symptoms

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