Locally advanced breast cancer (LABC) is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Saudi women. There are few
studies in this group, but those published show that those Saudi women experience high levels of distressing
symptoms with poor quality of life with little support available for them. Early identification and management of
their needs could result in enhanced care and improved quality of life. A better understanding of the needs and
concerns of Saudi women is required in order to develop appropriate interventions for their support. The purpose of
this study was to identify and explore the lived experience, needs and concerns of Saudi women with LABC.
A qualitative phenomenological approach was used, and in-depth interviews were undertaken in Arabic. A
purposive sample of 23 Saudi women with LABC in three major Saudi hospitals. Ethical approval and consents
were taken. Digitally-recorded data and field notes were transcribed, interpreted to English, organised, and coded
using MAXQDA software and analysed inductively using thematic analysis.
The results came under three main themes: The theme ‘Drowning in the sea’ indicated poor and conflicting
information about the treatment journey, struggles with the system and reported the need for psychological
support. The theme ‘Feeling different’ showed the experience with adjusting to a changed physical status,
managing stressful emotions, managing social relationships and dealing with practical issues such as
transportation. The theme ‘Finding strength’ indicated the different sources used by women for coping such as the
power of faith, keeping a positive outlook, seeking support from family, and peer support.
This important study is the first of its kind to explore the views of women newly diagnosed with locally advanced breast cancer regarding their needs and concerns in Saudi Arabia. The findings helped address the lack of knowledge in this poorly researched field and provide considerable insight into how best to meet their needs. These findings will be used to develop a supportive programme to meet their needs.
This research will have a significant impact on shaping policy and developing culturally sensitive person-centred care services for Saudi women with LABC.