Positive Aspects of Having Had Cancer: A Mixed-Methods Analysis of Responses from the American Cancer Society Study of Cancer Survivors-II (SCS-II)

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Department 1

Health Sciences



This study focused on understanding positive aspects of cancer among a large, national sample of survivors, 2, 5, and 10 years' postcancer diagnosis, who responded to the American Cancer Society Study of Cancer Survivors - II (SCS-II) survey “Please tell us about any positive aspects of having cancer.”


A sequential mixed methods approach examined (1) thematic categories of positive aspects from cancer survivors (n = 5149) and (2) variation in themes by sociodemographics, cancer type, stage of disease, and length of survivorship.


Themes comprised 21 positive aspects within Thornton's typology of benefits that cancer survivors attribute to their illness: life perspectives, self, and relationships. New themes pertaining to gratitude and medical support during diagnosis and treatment, health-related changes, follow-up/surveillance, and helping others emerged that are not otherwise included in widely used existing benefit finding cancer scales. Gratitude and appreciation for life were the most frequently endorsed themes. Sociodemographics and stage of disease were associated with positive aspect themes. Themes were not associated with survivor cohorts.


No differences in perceived positive aspects across survivor cohorts suggest that positive aspects of cancer may exist long after diagnosis for many survivors. However, variation across sociodemographics and clinical variables suggests cancer survivors differentially experience positive aspects from their cancer diagnosis.

Implications for Cancer Survivors

This analysis provides new information about cancer survivors' perceptions of positive aspects from their cancer and factors associated with benefit finding and personal growth. This information can be useful in further refining quality-of-life measures and interventions for cancer survivors.


Original version available from the publisher at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pon.4484/full



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