Patient perspectives of ‘Watch and Wait’ for chronic haematological cancers: Findings from a qualitative study

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PURPOSE: Chronic blood cancers are incurable, and characterised by unpredictable, remitting-relapsing pathways. Management often involves periods of observation prior to treatment (if required), and post-treatment, in an approach known as 'Watch and Wait'. This study aimed to explore patient experiences of 'Watch and Wait'.

METHODS: In-depth interviews with 35 patients (10 accompanied by relatives) with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, follicular lymphoma, marginal zone lymphoma or myeloma. Data were analysed using descriptive qualitative techniques.

RESULTS: Patient views of Watch and Wait ranged along a continuum, from immediate acceptance, to concern about treatment deferral. Significant ongoing anxiety and distress were described by some, due to the uncertain pathways associated with Watch and Wait. Infrequent contact with clinical staff was said to exacerbate this, as there was limited opportunity to ask questions and seek reassurance. Patients indicated that the impact of their malignancy could be underestimated by clinicians; possibly due to them comparing chronic and acute subtypes. Most patients lacked knowledge of blood cancers. Support from clinicians was considered greater among treated patients, possibly due to increased contact, and many drew on relatives for aid. Most patients were satisfied with their time-allocation with haematology staff, although experiences could be improved by greater access to clinical nurse specialists, counselling services, and community-based facilities.

CONCLUSION: Experiences varied. Anxiety about unpredictable futures could be more distressing than any physical symptoms and have a greater impact on quality of life. Ongoing assessment could facilitate identification of difficulties, and is particularly important among individuals without supportive networks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102349
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean journal of oncology nursing
Early online date16 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

© 2023 The Authors.


  • Humans
  • Quality of Life
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local/therapy
  • Hematologic Neoplasms/diagnosis
  • Rectal Neoplasms/therapy

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