Chemotherapy treatment for cancer diseases can cause body pain during adjuvant therapy.
The aim was to describe the perceived impact of adjuvant chemotherapy-induced pain (CHIP) on the daily lives of women with newly diagnosed breast cancer, using triangulation.
Fifty-seven women scheduled for chemotherapy in doses of 75 mg/m2 or greater of epirubicin and/or docetaxel participated. Twenty-two of these women registered pain with values of 4 or more on the visual analog scale on day 10 following chemotherapy. Of these 22, 16 participated in an interview and colored a printed body image. A qualitative thematic stepwise analysis of the interviews was performed.
Chemotherapy-induced pain had a profound impact on daily life. Ten women reported the worst possible pain, with visual analog scale scores of 8 to 10. Three different categories crystallized: perception (A) of manageable pain, which allowed the women to maintain their daily lives; perception (B) of pain beyond imagination, whereby the impact of pain had become more complex; and perception (C) of crippling pain, challenging the women’s confidence in survival.
The findings highlight the inability to capture CHIP with 1 method only; it is thus necessary to use complimentary methods to capture pain. We found that pain had a considerable impact on daily life, with surprisingly high scores of perceived pain, findings that to date have been poorly investigated qualitatively.
Implications for Practice:
Nurses need to (1) better identify, understand and treat CHIP, using instruments and protocols; and (2) provide improved communication about pain and pain management.