Lived experiences and support needs of women who developed chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy following treatment for breast and ovarian cancer

Mary Anne Tanay, Jo Armes
European Journal of Cancer Care 2019 February 20, : e13011

OBJECTIVES: This study explored lived experiences of women who developed chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) following treatment for breast and ovarian cancer. It also explored cancer survivors' perceptions of information and advice offered by clinicians about CIPN and for managing CIPN.

METHODS: The study was advertised through cancer charity websites and social media accounts. Purposeful, convenience sampling was carried out using set eligibility criteria. Individuals with diagnosis of breast or ovarian cancer who experienced or are still experiencing CIPN were recruited. Fifteen semi-structured interviews were conducted. Data were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA).

RESULTS: Similar to previous studies, participants used comparisons to describe their symptoms. Four main themes emerged from the analysis: (a) struggle to process CIPN information, (b) information and trust are key in the treatment decision-making process, (c) experience of symptom reporting and (d) challenges of managing symptoms. Findings suggest interventions to improve understanding of CIPN risk are needed in practice.

CONCLUSION: A better and broader understanding of the patient experience of CIPN could pave the way for improved communication, assessment and management of symptoms. Results suggest the need for interventions to guide cancer survivors to recognise and report CIPN symptoms early and address the impact of CIPN symptoms in their lives.

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