Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Cancer Nursing Mar-Apr 2008, vol. 31, no. 2

Intimacy and sexuality after cancer: a critical review of the literature.
p. E9-17, 83 refs
Experiencing a diagnosis of cancer may dramatically alter the way a person feels about themselves, their body, and their significant relationships with others at sexual and intimate levels. The purpose of this article is to provide a critical analysis of the way patient sexuality and intimacy has been constructed throughout cancer and palliative care literature. A critique of 3 well-cited communication frameworks for health professionals: the PLISSIT, ALARM, and BETTER models, will be offered. In summary, a dominant emphasis throughout the literature explores the narrow relationship between cancer treatments and the impact of those treatments on patient sexual function or dysfunction, so that patient sexuality and intimacy are inextricably limited to fertility, contraception, menopausal, erectile functional, or capacity for intercourse. Few studies explore sexual or intimate issues that have arisen in the face of life- threatening illness, particularly when patients are older than 65 years. Despite being well cited during the past 30 years, the PLISSIT and ALARM counseling models are outdated in terms of more reflective, patient-centered, and negotiated forms of communication promoted throughout clinical practice guidelines and patient feedback in qualitative research. The BETTER communication model provides a significant step in assessing and documenting the patient's experience of sexuality after cancer.

End-of-life care for terminal head and neck cancer patients.
p. E40-6
Sesterhenn-Andreas-M, Folz-Benedikt-J, Bieker-Michael, Teymoortash- Afshin, Werner-Jochen-A.
The objective of this study was to describe end-stage disease in patients suffering from advanced head and neck cancer (hnc). It is one of the most unpleasant and agonizing way a person may die and is a challenging problem for all involved with its treatment. Until today, only few detailed information about the final phase of life of hnc patients in a hospice setting are available. The design of this study was a cohort sample. The course of disease until death was thoroughly analyzed. In addition, hospice staff was interviewed. The study was conducted in a hospice setting (University Hospital). The charts of 16 patients suffering from end-stage hnc were evaluated. The median survival time in the hospice was 19.5 days. There, a more or less rapid deterioration of disease was evident. Several nurses sometimes felt extremely distressed after confrontation with the advanced disease stages. Partially, the situations for the nursing staff were unbearable because of visible, odorous, and fungating tumors or metastasis. The final days were characterized by restlessness followed by somnolence and resulting in an irreversible coma. The goal of palliative treatment of terminal hnc patients is offering the most convenient way to live the final days of their lives in dignity. The short survival time in hospice indicates that incurable patients may be referred to terminal care institutions too late in their dying trajectory. Physicians should be encouraged to talk to their terminally ill patients about the status and incurability of the disease as early as possible to facilitate patient and family decision making on how to prepare for the impending end of life.

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