Developing and Using Preparatory Information for Women Undergoing Radiation Therapy for Cervical or Uterine Cancer

Norma J. Christman

Marsha G. Oakley

Sherill N. Cronin

cervix neoplasms, radiotherapy, brachytherapy, symptom distress, adverse effects, information resources

Purpose/Objectives: To describe symptoms associated with radiation therapy necessary to develop preparatory concrete, objective information for women with cervical or uterine cancer.

Design: Prospective, descriptive.

Setting: University-affiliated radiation oncology department in the mid-south.

Sample: 49 of 52 women undergoing external beam radiation and low-dose rate brachytherapy for cervical or uterine cancer. Stage of disease ranged from I–IIIA. Mean age of subjects was 54 years; mean years of education was 11.

Methods: Investigator-developed symptom checklist based on prior research.

Main Research Variables: Symptom reports.

Findings: At least 40% of the women reported difficulty sleeping, fatigue, diarrhea, anorexia, nausea, urinary frequency,dysuria, vaginal  discharge, and perineal irritation. Incidence and timing of symptoms varied by operative status and brachytherapy timing.

Conclusions: Findings confirm and clarify the symptoms women associate with radiation treatment for cervical or uterine cancer.

Implications for Nursing Practice: Assessing research findings for relevance to the care of patients in specific settings is necessary. These findings are appropriate for developing preparatory information for women undergoing external beam radiation and low-dose rate brachytherapy.

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