Online exclusive: patient and surgeon decision making regarding surgery for advanced cancer

Oncol Nurs Forum. 2003 Nov-Dec;30(6):E106-14. doi: 10.1188/03.ONF.E106-E114.


Purpose/objectives: To describe a program of research related to outcomes of palliative surgery and focus on one phase of this research involving decision making by patients and surgeons considering surgery for advanced disease.

Design: Descriptive.

Sample: 10 patients undergoing surgery and 3 oncology surgeons.

Methods: Qualitative interviews were conducted with patients and their surgeons pre- and postoperatively. Transcripts were content analyzed to identify major themes in patient and surgeon interviews based on study questions.

Main research variables: Decision making, palliative surgery, quality of life.

Findings: The study findings highlight the issues of greatest concern to patients and surgeons considering palliative surgery. This phase was an important component of the overall program of palliative surgery research.

Conclusions: Comprehensive care for patients with advanced cancer seeks to achieve a balance of providing aggressive care, ensuring optimum symptom management, and maintaining a focus on comfort. Further study of palliative surgery as an aspect of interdisciplinary care is warranted.

Implications for nursing: Patients undergoing surgery for advanced disease require expert nursing care to address quality-of-life concerns. Further research is needed in this area.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Decision Making*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Medical Oncology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / nursing
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Palliative Care*
  • Patient Participation
  • Patients / psychology
  • Physicians / psychology
  • Quality of Life
  • Specialties, Surgical