Symptom concerns of women with ovarian cancer

J Pain Symptom Manage. 2003 Jun;25(6):528-38. doi: 10.1016/s0885-3924(03)00148-9.


This study describes the symptom experience of women with ovarian cancer. A body of data consisting of 21,806 letters, cards, and e-mails written by ovarian cancer patients was donated to the City of Hope investigators by the founder and editor of Conversations!: The International Newsletter for Those Fighting Ovarian Cancer. Using ethnographic qualitative research procedures, meaningful comments in the data were bracketed and coded within physical, psychological, social, and spiritual domains according to the City of Hope QOL-Ovarian Cancer instrument. Six hundred seventy-seven (677) comments were identified as pertaining to pre- and post-diagnostic symptomatology. Findings, based on major themes derived from the analysis, included distress over delayed diagnoses given the presence of pre-diagnosis symptoms. Frequently described post-diagnosis symptoms included pain, fatigue, gastrointestinal effects, and menstrual and fertility changes. Women demonstrated resourcefulness and optimism by sharing innovative ideas for coping with varied symptoms. Significant attention was dedicated to complementary and alternative therapies, both for symptom management and with curative intent. Findings demonstrate the need to improve diagnostic tests, symptom management, and patient education.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / complications*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / psychology*