The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the scaling back or postponement of non-emergency hospital services, including care of cancer patients. The present qualitative study explored the experiences of newly diagnosed oral cancer patients during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Pakistan. Patients who attended the Department of Maxillofacial Surgery, Khyber College of Dentistry in July 2020 were selected using a maximum variation purposive sampling method. Seventeen semi-structured interviews were conducted in Pashto, the local language of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. All interviews were audiotaped, transcribed verbatim, and translated into English. Thematic content analysis yielded eight major themes: pain and generalised physical weakness, shock at diagnosis, psychological distress of the COVID-19 pandemic, faith and religion, double hit loss of employment, social isolation, social support from caregivers, and lack of support from health care professionals. In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic has a clear impact on the life experiences of newly diagnosed oral cancer patients. Distress due to delay in accessing health care and lack of support from health care providers are a matter of great concern. Appropriate interventions should be introduced to ensure psychological and social support strategies are in place for patients during interruptions of health care services.


This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

Cite as

Khattak, M., Khattak, S., Khan, M., Khan, Z., Dikomitis, L., Ul-Haq, Z. & Saddki, N. 2022, 'Experiences of newly diagnosed oral cancer patients during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic: a qualitative study from Pakistan', International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(14), article no: 8508. https://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19148508

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Last updated: 22 August 2022
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