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Laparoscopic surgery for endometrial cancer: a phenomenological study


C. Hughes: e-mail:


hughes c., knibb w. & allan h. (2010) Laparoscopic surgery for endometrial cancer: a phenomenological study. Journal of Advanced Nursing66(11), 2500–2509.


Aim.  This paper is a report of a study of women’s perspectives on the experience of laparoscopic surgery for endometrial cancer.

Background.  Laparoscopic surgery is increasingly used to treat early endometrial cancer. It is associated with low levels of morbidity and is considered safe as cancer surgery, but research on quality of life and women’s experiences is limited.

Method.  Heideggerian hermeneutic phenomenology was used to explore the experiences of 14 women who had undergone the procedure in two English cancer centres between February 2008 and July 2009. In-depth interviews were taped, transcribed and analysed using Colaizzi’s framework.

Findings.  A phenomenological description was produced from five identified themes: having cancer, transfer of responsibility to the surgeon, information and support, independence, and normality. The experience of laparoscopic surgery was overshadowed by the presence of cancer. Fear and lack of knowledge played an important role in entrusting the surgeon with the responsibility for decision-making. Individual, unmet information needs focused on the practicalities of treatment and being in an unfamiliar situation and environment. Loss of control and vulnerability were associated with illness and surgery, but early postoperative mobility and reduced pain, facilitated rapid return to independence and maintained a sense of normality.

Conclusion.  Healthcare professionals should deliver care in early endometrial cancer in a way that recognizes the significance of the cancer diagnosis, the role of the surgeon in decision-making and the need for practical information. Women with endometrial cancer should have access to treatments that reduce dependency and maintain normality.