Living and dying with metastatic bowel cancer: serial in-depth interviews with patients

Emma Carduff, Marilyn Kendall, Scott Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Colorectal cancer is the second highest cause of cancer deaths. There are significant physical and psycho-social effects on quality of life with advanced disease. Despite this, there are few accounts of the patient experience from advanced illness through to dying. We elicited the dynamic experiences of living and dying with incurable metastatic colorectal cancer by conducting serial interviews with patients for 12 months or until they died. The interviews were analysed, using a narrative approach, longitudinally as case studies and then together. Thirty-six interviews with 16 patients were conducted. Patients experience metastatic colorectal cancer in three phases; 1) Diagnosis and initial treatment; 2) Deterioration and social isolation and 3) Death and dying. Many patients initially said they hoped to survive, but, as “private” and in-depth accounts of the experience emerged in further interviews, so did the understanding that this hope co-existed with the knowledge that death was near. Palliative chemotherapy and the challenge of accessing private accounts of patient experience can inhibit care planning and prevent patients benefitting from an active holistic palliative care approach earlier in the disease trajectory. This study has immediate clinical relevance for health care professionals in oncology, palliative care and primary care.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer Care
Early online date1 Feb 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Feb 2017


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