Identity reconstruction among older cancer survivors; Age and meaning in the context of a life altering illness

This paper evaluates how older cancer patients describe cancer survivorship and incorporate the cancer experience into long-term evaluations of health. From a series of 53 qualitative interviews with adults with histories of breast and prostate cancers and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, we analyze age-related discussions among those 65 and older (n = 21). Emergent themes revealed the: 1) Historical conceptualization of cancer, (2) Changed perspective following diagnosis, (3) Cancer in the context of a long biography, (4) Cancer in the context of the aging body and decline, and (5) Meaning of time remaining and quality of life. One important suggestion from our work, relevant to all clinicians regardless of specialty or role, is to incorporate goals for the future into individualized survivor care plans for older survivors.

Journal of psychosocial oncology. 2016 [Epub ahead of print]

Susan M Hannum, Katherine Clegg Smith, Kisha Coa, Ann C Klassen

a Cancer Epidemiology, Prevention, and Control Postdoctoral Fellow, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg, School of Public Health., b Department of Health , Behavior and Society, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health., c ICF International., d Department of Community Health and Prevention , Drexel University School of Public Health.