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Experiences of living with a malignant fungating wound: a qualitative study

Lo, Shu-Fen; Hu, Wen-Yu; Hayter, Mark; Chang, Shu-Chuan; Hsu, Mei-Yu; Wu, Li-Yue


Shu-Fen Lo

Wen-Yu Hu

Shu-Chuan Chang

Mei-Yu Hsu

Li-Yue Wu


Aims and objectives.  The purpose of this study was to explore the experience of cancer patients living with a malignant fungating wounds.

Background.  Malignant fungating wounds are caused by cancerous cells invading skin tissue. These wounds can then bleed, become malodorous and painful causing physical and psychological distress. However, little is know about how individuals experience these lesions.

Design.  Qualitative.

Methods.  Ten in‐depth interviews were conducted with patients in one medical teaching centre in Taiwan. Data were subject to a thematic analysis informed by elements of grounded theory.

Results.  Five key themes demonstrated an emerging model that offers an insight into how patients experience their wound. Firstly, ‘Declining physical well‐being’ refers to the initial impact of the wound, this is linked to two further themes; ‘Wound related stigma’ and the ‘Need for expert help’. Another theme; ‘Strategies in wound management’ describes the initial, ineffective attempts by participants to manage their wound and the impact of professional help around wound management. This was linked to a fifth theme; ‘Living positively with the wound’ that reflected how patients adjusted to the presence of the wound – significantly influenced by the wound care they received.

Conclusion.  This study contributes to the understanding we have of how patients experience living with such wounds. It sets out the clear need for early use of wound specialists as part of the multi‐disciplinary oncology team.

Relevance to clinical practice.  The results of this study provides a description of patient experiences that can help to guide nursing practice as well as an understanding of what a malignant fungating wound means to cancer patients and how it influences their lives.


Lo, S., Hu, W., Hayter, M., Chang, S., Hsu, M., & Wu, L. (2008). Experiences of living with a malignant fungating wound: a qualitative study. Journal of clinical nursing, 17(20), 2699-2708.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 16, 2008
Online Publication Date Sep 17, 2008
Publication Date 2008-10
Journal Journal of Clinical Nursing
Print ISSN 0962-1067
Electronic ISSN 1365-2702
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 17
Issue 20
Pages 2699-2708
Keywords Cancer; Nurses; Nursing; Patient experience; Wound care; Qualitative
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