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Taking Care of Second Cancer Risk

Wilkins, Krista L. PhD, RN; Woodgate, Roberta L. PhD

doi: 10.1097/NCC.0b013e3182164951

Background: Cancer survivors are living longer and are at greater risk of developing cancer than the general population. Promotion of healthy lifestyle behaviors and provision of regular follow-up care may modify the evolution of a second cancer diagnosis. Little is known, however, about cancer survivors’ decision making and actions related to modifying second cancer risk.

Objective: Part of a larger mixed-method study of second cancer risk, qualitative interview data were collected to arrive at an interpretive description of how cancer survivors modify their second cancer risk, and how nurses and other healthcare professionals can best support survivors throughout the cancer survival trajectory.

Interventions/Methods: Semistructured interviews were conducted with 22 cancer survivors (16 women and 6 men) drawn from a provincial cancer registry. The cancer survivors ranged in age from 19 to 87 years. The cancer history of the participants varied. Data were analyzed using the constant comparative method.

Results: Two themes that emerged from the interviews that speak to how cancer survivors modified their second cancer risk were (1) how I take care of my second cancer risk and (2) support I need to take care of my second cancer risk.

Conclusions: For many cancer survivors, awareness of the benefits of taking care of second cancer risk does not translate into action.

Implications for Practice: Study findings reinforce that more needs to be done in supporting cancer survivors in taking care of second cancer risk.

Author Affiliations: Faculty of Nursing, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick (Dr Wilkins); and Faculty of Nursing, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba (Dr Woodgate), Canada. The authors have no funding or conflicts of interest to disclose.

Correspondence: Krista L. Wilkins, PhD, RN, Faculty of Nursing, University of New Brunswick, Room 155, MacLaggan Hall, 33 Dineen Dr, Fredericton, NB, Canada E3B 5A3 (

Accepted for publication February 17, 2011.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.