Research Article| Volume 13, ISSUE 4, P295-298, September 2009

Malignant fungating wounds: A survey of nurses’ clinical practice in Switzerland

Published:April 23, 2009DOI:



      The care of individuals with a fungating malignant wound represents challenging cancer management not only for patients and their families but also for health care professionals. Understanding the difficulties faced by nurses when they care for patients with such a wound can help guide practice and service development. The aim of this study was to investigate how many patients with a malignant fungating wounds did nurses see and what kind of difficulties in caring for patients with a malignant fungating wound did nurses experience.


      A survey was conducted in three different geographical regions of Switzerland over a 6 month period.


      A total of 269 nurses participated in this survey. The nurses reported the prevalence rate of fungating wounds as 6.6%. There was a difference in perceived prevalence between the regions. The most frequent location for such wounds was the breast in women with breast cancer. The appearance was mainly ulcerating. The main difficulties nurses experienced in the management of patients related to malodour, pain and difficulties in applying the dressings to the wound. The most frequently used dressing was an absorbent dressing. The difficulties nurses had and what kind of dressings they used were closely connected.

      Conclusions and implications for practice

      Strategies need to be explored to help understand the diverse range of wound problems including physical and psychological components. Furthermore, there is a need to raise the awareness of existing wound management specialists in the support of cancer patients.


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