Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

The experiences of patients with ascites secondary to cancer: A qualitative study

Day, Rebecca; Mitchell, Theresa; Keen, Alison; Perkins, Paul


Rebecca Day

Theresa Mitchell

Alison Keen

Paul Perkins


Background: Ascites secondary to cancer has a dramatic effect on all aspects of patients' lives. Healthcare professional surveys have shown that there is considerable variation in the management of ascites. Aim: To explore patients' experiences of living with ascites and its management. Design: Qualitative research study using digitally recorded semi-structured interviews. Setting/participants: Twelve adult patients with ascites who, between them, had undergone 47 paracentesis procedures in hospitals and/or specialist palliative care units in Southern England. Results: Symptoms were pain, discomfort and effects on appetite, digestion, breathing and mobility. All participants had experienced paracentesis in hospital or a specialist palliative care unit, and these experiences differed. They had views on what constituted a good procedure: setting, competence and pain control. They reported rapid improvement of symptoms after paracentesis. While some did not like the idea of a semi-permanent drain, those with them appreciated the convenience and not having to wait for repeated admissions or the recurrence of symptoms. The interval between ascitic taps was seen as a useful guide as to when a semi-permanent drain should be offered. Participants had mixed views on participation in a hypothetical randomised controlled trial of repeated ascitic taps versus semi-permanent drains. Conclusion: Patients' experiences of ascites management are variable and could be improved. These experiences can inform healthcare professionals. They have views on when semi-permanent drains should be offered and future research. © The Author(s) 2012.


Day, R., Mitchell, T., Keen, A., & Perkins, P. (2013). The experiences of patients with ascites secondary to cancer: A qualitative study. Palliative Medicine, 27(8), 739-746.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Sep 1, 2013
Journal Palliative Medicine
Print ISSN 0269-2163
Electronic ISSN 1477-030X
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 27
Issue 8
Pages 739-746
Keywords patient experience, malignant ascites, cancer
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : Published online before print 4 April 2013

Downloadable Citations