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Surviving Adult Cancers. Part 2: Psychosocial Implications

Deborah Welch-McCaffrey, RN, MSN; Barbara Hoffman, JD; Susan A. Leigh, RN, BS; Lois J. Loescher, RN, MS; and Frank L. Meyskens Jr., MD
[+] Article and Author Information

Grant Support: Supported in part by grants from the National Institutes of Health (CA-23074) and Arizona Disease Control Research Commission (3364-0000000- 1-AP-6621).

Requests for Reprints: Lois J. Loescher, Arizona Cancer Center, 1515 North Campbell Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85724.

Current Author Addresses: Ms. Welch-McCaffrey: Good Samaritan Cancer Center, 1111 East McDowell Road, Phoenix, AZ 85006.

Ms. Hoffman: 9 Madison Road, Cranbury, NJ 08512.

Ms. Leigh and Ms. Loescher: Arizona Cancer Center, 1515 North Campbell Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85724.

Dr. Meyskens: University of California-Irvine Cancer Center , 101 The City Drive, Orange, CA 92668.


© 1989 American College of PhysiciansAmerican College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1989;111(6):517-524. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-111-6-517
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Purpose: To address the psychosocial implications of surviving adult cancers by a comprehensive review of the literature.

Data Identification: An English-language literature search using MEDLINE (1970 to 1988), Index Medicus (1970 to 1988), and bibliographic reviews of textbooks and review articles.

Study Selection: Of 103 originally identified articles, 58 that specifically addressed the stated purpose were selected.

Data Extraction: Four authors reviewed and critiqued the literature extrapolating the major themes on this topic.

Results of Data Synthesis: There is little information on the many psychosocial variables that affect an adult's long-term cancer survival trajectory. Collation of data identified the following significant psychosocial themes: fear of recurrence and death, relationships with the health care team, adjustment to physical compromise, alterations in customary social support, isolationism, psychosocial reorientation, and employment and insurance problems.

Conclusions: The continuation of a rehabilitation effort begun around the initial diagnosis of cancer would be instrumental in providing post-therapy evaluation and guidance needed by adult long-term survivors of cancer. Education, research, and support interventions need to be mobilized for this population of adults with a history of cancer.

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