Malignant wounds in women with breast cancer: feminine and sexual perspectives

J Clin Nurs. 2005 Jan;14(1):56-64. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2004.01022.x.


Aims and objectives: . The aim of this article is to investigate the way malignant fungating wounds affect femininity, sexuality and daily life in women with progressive breast cancer. Malignant wounds occur when the underlying localized tumour filtrates into the skin, blood capillaries and/or lymph vessels.

Design: The study was a prospective and exploratory intervention study. The intervention was tested on 12 consecutively selected women with progressive breast cancer and malignant fungating wounds.

Methods: The 12 women participated in a 4-week wound care intervention programme that comprised evidence-based wound care principles and psychosocial support. Data were generated by means of interviewing prior to and following the intervention period.

Results: The women described how malodorous and oozing wounds trigger anxiety about seepage, prevent them from wearing feminine attire and cause them to suppress the need for physical closeness and sexual activity. The results showed that by using modern wound care products, the patients could be secured against seepage and odour. The women experienced a sense of comfort, were able to dress again as they wished, no longer felt caged in and isolated and were given a sense of freedom which they had not felt for a long time.

Conclusions: The intervention succeeded in increasing breast cancer patients' psychosocial well-being and reducing social isolation.

Relevance to clinical practice: There is a lack of standard methods of practice for care of malignant wounds in women with breast cancer. This article describes an intervention for wound care which could improve daily live in women with progressive breast cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Bandages / standards*
  • Body Image
  • Breast Neoplasms / complications*
  • Cost of Illness
  • Denmark
  • Exudates and Transudates
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Odorants
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life
  • Sex*
  • Skin Care / methods
  • Skin Care / nursing
  • Skin Care / psychology
  • Skin Ulcer* / etiology
  • Skin Ulcer* / prevention & control
  • Skin Ulcer* / psychology
  • Social Isolation
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Women / psychology*