Caring for Patients with Malignant Fungating Wounds: A Scoping Literature Review

Deni Yasmara, Sin Hang Tam, Su Ying Fang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


PURPOSE: The aim of this scoping literature review was to identify current knowledge related to management of malignant fungating wounds (MFWs), gaps in this knowledge, and areas for future research. METHODS: This was a scoping literature review. SEARCH STRATEGY: Six electronic databases (Embase, MEDLINE, Cochrane (CENTRAL), CINAHL, Scopus, and Web of Science) were searched spanning the years 1987 and 2022. The initial electronic database search retrieved 6041 studies. The search is based on 60 articles published between 1987 and 2022, along with 14 additional studies were based on search of reference lists of key articles. FINDINGS: Studies were divided into 2 main domains; the vast majority (65 of 72, 87.8%) focused on symptom impact, measurement, and management. The remaining articles (n = 9, 12.2%) focused on caring for patients with MFW; these studies focused on nursing care experiences and competencies, along with lay caregiver experiences. Findings indicated that instruments have been developed to evaluate symptoms of MFW but only a few have been validated. Most of the studies reviewed evaluated the influence of MFW on physical and psychosocial function. Local and systematic symptom managements such as modern dressings, wound care strategies, surgery, and radiotherapy as well as chemotherapy were found to be effective in alleviating symptoms. Findings also indicated that families and nurses encounter obstacles and burdens when caring for patients with MFW; limited studies were retrieved that investigated the competence and needs of nurses in their caring journey. IMPLICATIONS: Future studies should focus on: (1) using better designs to evaluate and compare topical agents and dressings to control odor, (2) validating assessment tools specific to MFW, (3) qualitative studies designed to enhance understanding family and nurses' experiences, and (4) improving the nurse's ability to care for patients with MFWs and their responses to managing these challenging patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-25
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2024 Jan 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medical–Surgical
  • Advanced and Specialised Nursing


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