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The uncanny mouth - a phenomenological approach to oral cancer
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Surgical Sciences.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Surgical Sciences, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Health Services Research.
2007 (English)In: Patient Education and Counseling, ISSN 0738-3991, E-ISSN 1873-5134, Vol. 67, no 3, 301-306 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Objective: The aim of this retrospective qualitative study was to describe how patients with oral cancer experience their sickness and treatment. Methods: A purposeful sample of seven patients with oral cancer was interviewed. Data were analysed using a phenomenological approach outlined by van Manen. Results: The essence of the patients' experiences can be described as embodiment in a mouth that has become unreal, or 'uncanny'. At treatment start the body is invaded by cancer, during treatment there is no escape from a wounded mouth, at treatment end the mouth is disabled. Conclusions: The findings indicate that oral cancer patients' need for support may increase as treatment progresses and may be greatest at end of radiotherapy, as they return home with mouths that have not recovered after treatment and do not function normally. Practice implications: This suggests the importance of understanding the patients' situation during treatment and their desire for a return to normal living and normal mouth functions at treatment end. If possible, plans for oral rehabilitation should be considered in initial treatment planning. As the treatment of oral cancer is multiprofessional, this knowledge may be useful in guiding the organization of oral cancer care and multiprofessional collaboration.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007. Vol. 67, no 3, 301-306 p.
Keyword [en]
Oral cancer, Support, Phenomenology, Multiprofessional collaboration
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-96358DOI: 10.1016/j.pec.2007.02.001ISI: 000248634900010PubMedID: 17374473OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-96358DiVA: diva2:170908
Available from: 2007-11-08 Created: 2007-11-08 Last updated: 2011-04-13Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Understanding Oral Cancer - A Lifeworld Approach
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Understanding Oral Cancer - A Lifeworld Approach
2007 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Dental involvement with oral cancer patients during their treatment and rehabilitation can be long and intense. How can dental personnel better understand their role in the treatment of these patients? How does treatment affect the patients and their spouses? In searching for answers, the theories of phenomenography, phenomenology and hermeneutics are used to describe and interpret the experiences of the hospital dental treatment teams, oral cancer patients, and their spouses.

Study I reveals that hospital dental treatment teams perceive the encounter with head and neck cancer patients in three qualitatively different ways; as an act of caring, as a serious and responsible task, and as an overwhelming emotional situation, indicating that they are not always able to lean on education and professional training in dealing with situations with strong emotional impact. Study II gives insight into the lifeworld of oral cancer patients, and how the patient becomes embodied in a mouth that is increasingly `uncanny´, as it slowly ceases to function normally. Study III shows that oral cancer puts a hold on the lifeworld of the patients’ spouses which can be described as `living in a state of suspension´. These findings suggest that the support needs of patients and spouses appear to be greatest at treatment end, when, upon returning home, they are faced with the accumulated impact of the patients’ sickness and treatment. Study IV gives insight into what it may mean to live with the consequences of oral cancer, revealing a silent physical, emotional and existential struggle to adjust to a changed way of living.

This thesis raises the question if todays’ organisation of oral cancer care can meet the varying emotional and existential needs of treatment teams, patients and spouses that were brought to light.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2007. 64 p.
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Medicine, ISSN 1651-6206 ; 284
Surgery, Oral cancer, Dentistry, Lifeworld approach, Phenomenography, Phenomenology, Hermeneutics, Multiprofessional collabotation, Kirurgi
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-8284 (URN)978-91-554-7004-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2007-11-29, Fåhreussalen, Rudbecklaboratoriet, Dag Hammarskjölds vag 20, Uppsala, 13:15
Available from: 2007-11-08 Created: 2007-11-08 Last updated: 2010-12-28Bibliographically approved

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