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Type: Journal article
Title: Are you a cancer survivor? A review on cancer identity
Author: Cheung, S.
Delfabbro, P.
Citation: Journal of Cancer Survivorship, 2016; 10(4):759-771
Publisher: Springer
Issue Date: 2016
ISSN: 1932-2259
Statement of
Sze Yan Cheung and Paul Delfabbro
Abstract: Purpose: Individuals diagnosed with cancer have been shown to interpret the term “cancer survivor” differently and this may have implications for how they cope with their illness. This article reviews the empirical research conducted in the field and aims to formulate recommendations for future research. Methods: A literature search was conducted on PubMed, PsycInfo, Embase and CINAHL using search strategies customized for each database: standardized subject terms and a wide range of free-text terms for “cancer”, “survivor”, and “identity”. Data from 23 eligible papers were extracted and summarized. Results: Analysis of the studies revealed that individuals diagnosed with cancer could be categorized into five groups based on their attitudes towards being a cancer survivor: embracing, constructive, ambiguous, resisting and non-salient. Identification as “cancer survivor” was found to be highly prevalent within the breast cancer community (77.9 %) and least among individuals diagnosed with prostate cancer (30.6 %). Self-identifying as a cancer survivor was related to better quality of life and mental wellbeing, with those having a childhood diagnosis more likely to transition successfully into adult care. Conclusions: The findings show that, for a substantial group of individuals, “cancer survivor” is not a title earned upon receiving a cancer diagnosis or completion of treatment, but an identity that may be embraced in time after deliberation. Future studies should examine the endorsement rate in less common cancers and whether choice of cancer identity varies over time. Implications for Cancer Survivors: Researchers and healthcare professionals should use caution when using the term “cancer survivor” so as not to alienate anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer but does not identify with it.
Keywords: Quality of life; cancer survivor; cancer survivorship; cancer identity
Rights: © Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016
DOI: 10.1007/s11764-016-0521-z
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