Surviving adult cancers. Part 2: Psychosocial implications

Ann Intern Med. 1989 Sep 15;111(6):517-24. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-111-6-517.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Death
  • Employment
  • Humans
  • Insurance, Health
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Recurrence
  • Social Environment*
  • Social Support