Taxane-induced pain: Experiences of women with breast cancer and nurses providing their care

  • Date:
  • Location: Auditorium Minus, Museum Gustavianum, Akademigatan 3, Uppsala
  • Doctoral student: Hellerstedt Börjesson, Susanne
  • About the dissertation
  • Organiser: Livsstil och rehabilitering vid långvarig sjukdom
  • Contact person: Hellerstedt Börjesson, Susanne
  • Disputation

The aim of this thesis was to explore women’s acute and longstanding experiences of taxane-induced pain, to evaluate the pain intensity and distribution using different assessment methods, and to study nurses´ perceptions of taxane-induced pain in people with breast cancer.

Breast cancer patients receiving taxane chemotherapy run a substantial risk of develop taxane-induced pain, but little is known about women’s experiences of such pain. The aim of this thesis was to explore women’s acute and longstanding experiences of taxane-induced pain, to evaluate the pain intensity and distribution using different assessment methods, and to study nurses´ perceptions of taxane-induced pain in people with breast cancer.

The women experienced pain during chemotherapy with 37– 48% incidence of acute taxane-induced pain. The subjective burden of taxane-induced pain described by the women covered narratives from manageable pain to very difficult and disabling pain with a major impact on their lifeworld (Study I).

Longstanding pain in the lifeworld of women with previous breast cancer, was explored through a retrospective reflection after 12 months. The descriptions of pain revealed a time perspective; as pain perceived at that specific time, currently ongoing pain, and pain expectations for the future. This resulted in the women sensing themselves of being somewhere between health and illness gazing into an uncertain future (Study II).

A quantitative longitudinal assessment of taxane-induced pain using; the body image, the VAS, and the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire (EORTC-QLQ-C30) showed the women’s estimated pain; its intensity, distribution and occurrence - as it appeared during the actual taxane treatment and up to a year afterward. The baseline measurement on the VAS revealed low initial pain, VAS <10, which changed at treatment Cycle 1. The body image revealed intense and widespread pain, and pain after 12 months, as did the EORTC QLQ -C30 (Study III).

The nurses’ estimations of taxane-induced pain varied to large extent in both prevalence and intensity. Large parts of the body were expected to be involved in the pain. Nurses lacked local and/or national guidelines reflecting a low level of generalized use of prophylaxis against taxane pain (Study IV).

In conclusion, taxane-induced pain is a common debilitating symptom during taxane chemotherapy for women with breast cancer. Pain impacts women´s life during as well as long time after the completion of taxane treatment. Taxane pain can be accurately or successfully estimated using various pain assessment tools. Furthermore, guidelines for dealing with taxane-induced pain are needed.