Radical cystectomy for bladder cancer: A qualitative study of patient experiences and implications for practice

Margaret I. Fitch, Debbie Miller, Sharon Sharir, Alison McAndrew


Patients being treated for bladder cancer share issues in common with other cancer patients, but also experience issues that are unique to their surgical treatment. This study used a descriptive qualitative approach to explore the experiences of patients who had undergone radical cystectomy for bladder cancer. Twenty-two participants were interviewed in-depth on one occasion and were invited to attend a focus group session following the analysis of the interview transcripts. Participants described the shock of their diagnosis, their lack of information about bladder cancer, the importance of clear communication with care providers, and the types of adjustments they had to make following surgery. Specifically, changes in bodily function, body image, sexual relationships, and intimacy presented challenges for these participants. Although there was a sense of acceptance about the treatment-related events, there were still significant adjustments required by individuals following their surgery. Information, open communication, and support from family and friends were seen as important factors in helping patients adjust after surgery. Patients require clear, concise and consistent information about their cancer, treatment options, and course of care. Nurses caring for patients following surgery for bladder cancer need to understand the unique needs of these patients.

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