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The experiences of older people living with cancer

  • Bibbi Thomé
  • Anna-Karin Dykes
  • Barbro Gunnars
  • Ingalill Rahm Hallberg
Publishing year: 2003
Language: English
Pages: 85-96
Publication/Series: Cancer Nursing
Volume: 26
Issue: 2
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

Abstract english

Nursing care for older people with cancer requires an understanding of their history and current needs from both an individual and generalized view. The aim of this study was to investigate the experience of older people living with cancer and the way it affects their daily life. During the study, 41 individuals 75 years of age and older (mean age, 83 years) who had a cancer diagnosed within the past 5 years were interviewed in their homes. After verbatim transcription, the interviews were analyzed with latent content analysis. Four main categories were identified: 1) living with cancer means bodily, mental, social, and existential experiences; 2) being aware of the disease or not; 3) handling of daily life; 4) feeling affirmation or rejection from healthcare professionals. Experiences of daily life with cancer were influenced by the combination of old age, comorbidities, and the perception of current and previous life. This combination more or less affected all aspects of life. The power to choose the approach to daily life with cancer, the disease, and its treatment proved to be crucial for handling cancer and the outcome. It seems that the main role for healthcare professionals is to empower the older person to choose for himself or herself. Furthermore, it seems to be important that healthcare professionals support older persons in their choices, whether they choose to take an active part in understanding the disease and handling of daily life or whether they decide to be more passive and hand themselves over to the healthcare system.


  • Nursing
  • Cancer and Oncology
  • cancer in the elderly
  • aged
  • age 75 and older
  • cancer experience


  • ISSN: 1538-9804
Ingalill Rahm Hallberg
E-mail: ingalill [dot] rahm_hallberg [at] med [dot] lu [dot] se

Professor emerita

Health-promoting Complex Interventions