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Papers of the Week

2020 Apr 28

J Palliat Med

Symptoms of Malignant Fungating Wounds and Functional Performance among Patients with Advanced Cancer: An Integrative Review from 2000 to 2019.


Malignant fungating wounds (MFWs), non-healing wounds caused by aggressive proliferation of malignant tumors, afflict 5%-14.5% of patients with advanced cancer. We conducted an integrative review to evaluate the level of evidence of peer-reviewed literature published from 2000 to 2019 on symptoms of MFWs, and the impact of the symptoms on functional performance among patients with advanced cancer. Four electronic databases were searched and 1506 articles were retrieved. A total of 1056 abstracts were screened for relevance and a full review of the 26 articles was performed. A total of 12 articles met inclusion criteria. An established quality assessment tool was used to rate the quality of the included studies. The overall quality of the included 12 studies was adequate. This integrative review of the literature provided strong evidence that patients with MFWs suffered multiple symptoms, including pain, odor, exudate, bleeding, pruritus, perceived wound status, perceived bulk effect and lymphedema. Quantitative research was not able to capture the occurrence and characteristics of all the identified symptoms. There was a lack of quantitative research on the impact of MFWs and symptoms on patients' functional performance. Yet, qualitative studies provided vivid description of how the symptoms negatively affected patients' functional performance. Future research should develop a clinical tool that enables the comprehensive assessment of symptoms of MFWs. Well-designed quantitative research is needed to delineate the impact of symptoms of MFWs on patients' functional performance to ensure quality palliative care.