Radiotherapy involves many short visits to the hospital during several weeks. Side effects may occur after a few weeks of daily treatment. This includes problems with urination, urgency, bowel problems, and often a disturbed sleep. A research team at Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden attempted to understand how the patients with prostate cancer experience the radiation therapy, as well as how the therapy affects their daily life.
Ten prostate cancer patients from two different hospitals in Stockholm were asked to keep diaries, and subsequently interviewed about their experiences of radiation treatment. Data were analyzed with Framework content analysis.
Three themes emerged after analysis: Changed life situation because of radiation treatment and its side effects and cancer diagnosis; Guidance by oncology nurses, oncologist and close relatives and own reflection the patients got; New Perspectives after weeks of treatment. With New perspectives they could find routines for their daily life and cope with side effects and cancer diagnosis.
Despite the stressful situation caused by side effects affecting daily life, patients with prostate cancer receiving radiation therapy generally describe their treatment period as positive. In the beginning, the treatment period is perceived as a journey with a sense of uncertainty, which gradually turns into a sense of increased certainty and stability as the treatment proceeds. The patients describe their partner as the most important support and guide through the journey of radiation therapy.
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The author has declared no conflicts of interest.