A Qualitative Study of Japanese Patients’ Perspectives on Post-treatment Care for Gynecological Cancer


The perspectives of cancer patients are important for designing a medically and economically effective follow-up program to help in the rapid recovery of patients. However, research focusing on the perspectives of Japanese gynecological cancer patients on follow-up programs is extremely scarce. In this study, we explored the perspectives and expectations of Japanese gynecological cancer patients with regard to post-treatment follow-up. Twenty-eight patients recruited through a gynecological cancer support group were included in focus groups 1−10 years post-treatment. Participants’ accounts related to their perspectives on follow-up were coded and grouped into themes according to commonalities and differences. Seven themes emerged as follows: (1) living with uncertainty, (2) monitoring recurrence, (3) test content and frequency, (4) coping with “another illness,” (5) provider communication and attitude, (6) holistic care, and (7) compromising with the reality of changed body. While these Japanese gynecological patients regarded follow-up as an opportunity for reassurance, they also wanted treatment for adverse effects and the opportunity to discuss their concerns. On the basis of the study findings, we conclude that during follow-up after cancer treatment, Japanese gynecological cancer patients not only prioritize recurrence management of cancer but also place a significant amount of importance on the management of symptoms and doctor-patient communication. However, these expectations for communication and care are often unmet. Thus, there is a need to fulfill the gap between the current follow-up programs and patients’ expectations by reviewing and changing the hospital’s policy that mainly focuses on the detection of recurrent diseases.