Impact of Ovarian Cancer Perceived by Women

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Ovarian cancer may be particularly challenging for women, both physically and psychologically, because of the advanced nature of the disease at the time of diagnosis, the side effects of the disease, the repetitive cycles of aggressive therapy, and the perceived loss of femininity from the removal of reproductive organs. In addition, women with this disease rarely have an opportunity for cure. Most will face the very real possibility of dying. This qualitative study examined the perspectives of women living with ovarian cancer. Eighteen women participated in interviews, in which they described their experiences living with the disease. Women reported the myriad day-to-day changes in their lives, the major challenges they had to face, and the sources to which they turned for support. Implications for the practice of oncology nurses involve assessment, an understanding of the profound impact that this illness has on both the woman and her family, and the need to access a variety of supportive care programs.

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