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Keywords:

  • cancer patients;
  • caretakers;
  • terminal illness

The care of patients suffering from advanced cancer is not limited in the hospital setting. It continues at home where the burden of care is borne by specific individuals. The aim of the present study was to survey and record the various problems faced by those who care for cancer patients at home. The study was conducted in our hospital during the summer of 2007. All participants completed, during a personal interview, a questionnaire which covered pathologic, social, psychological, spiritual/religious and financial problems. Seventy-six carers returned fully completed questionnaires. The most frequent problems reported were: anxiety regarding the patient's future (61.8%), troublesome symptoms such as pain (54%), increased economic burden—financial difficulty (51.3%), problems with patient's feeding (50%), unhappiness or depression (48,7%), emotional upset (47.4%), worsening of the patient's behaviour and personality (38.2%), difficulty of establishing a positive attitude regarding their current status (34.2%), transport to hospital (32.9%), assistance from the wider family circle (25%). Taking care of cancer patients at home creates several problems among carers. Many of them remain undetected. The acknowledgement and recognition of these problems by health-care professionals might contribute to finding solutions in order to assist the difficult task of these individuals.