Patients' experience of the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer
Winterbottom, A. and Harcourt , D. (2004) Patients' experience of the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 48 (3). pp. 226-233. ISSN 0309-2402
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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2648.2004.03191.x
PURPOSE: This paper describes the experience of being diagnosed with skin cancer from the perspective of patients. BACKGROUND: Despite the number of people with newly-diagnosed skin cancer increasing each year, the psychological impact of receiving such a diagnosis has received little attention. Research in this area is sporadic and has predominantly focused on malignant melanoma and used a quantitative approach. METHOD: Sixteen patients were interviewed about their experiences of being diagnosed with malignant melanoma, basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma. The interview transcripts were analysed using thematic content analysis. FINDINGS: Similar themes for the two non-melanoma forms of skin cancer patients emerged. Information and knowledge of skin cancer appeared as a key theme, and influenced experiences in a variety of different ways. Patients with malignant melanoma recounted similar experiences to those with basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma. People with malignant melanoma, however, used a wider variety of strategies in order to cope with the diagnosis. Satisfaction with the care experienced by each of the three groups played a crucial role in minimizing the experience for the patients. CONCLUSIONS: Patients with skin cancer should not be conceived as a homogeneous group, but one in which there are a number of diagnoses which differ in prognosis, and so may result in a variety of different consequences and thus experiences for patients.