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Living With Untreated Localized Prostate Cancer: A Qualitative Analysis of Patient Narratives

Hedestig, Oliver MSci, RNT; Sandman, Per-Olof DMSci, RN; Widmark, Anders PhD, MD


Few, if any, qualitative studies aimed at gaining an understanding of the experience of patients with prostate cancer have been done. The purpose of this study was to illuminate the meaning of being a patient living with untreated localized prostate cancer. Seven men with untreated localized prostate cancer were interviewed in their homes. The interviews were tape recorded and transcribed into text. The text was analyzed using a phenomenologic-hermeneutic approach inspired by Ricoeur’s philosophy. The meaning of living with untreated localized prostate cancer could be interpreted as living life under a dark shadow. The disease was described as a threat to the patient’s life. When living under this shadow, many of the men studied had an ambivalent wish both to share their experience with others and to be alone with their experiences of the disease. They believed that the disease had changed their lives, and their manhood was restricted by sexual dysfunctions and described as a burden. They used various coping strategies to manage this situation. Despite a positive relationship with their physicians, there is a risk that these patients will not be given the attention they need because of their good prognosis.

From the Department of Nursing (Mr Hedestig and Dr Sandman) and the Department of Radiation Sciences, Oncology (Dr Anders), Umeå University, Sweden.

This research was supported by Lions Cancer Research Foundation at Umeå University Hospital, Swedish Cancer Society and The Cancer- and Traffic-Injured Rehabilitation.

Corresponding author: Oliver Hedestig, MSci, RN, Department of Nursing, Umeå University, S-901 85 Umeå, Sweden (e-mail:

Accepted for publication August 7, 2002.

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.