Life After Cancer

Living With Risk

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


Cancer Nurs. 2011;34(6):487-494. 

In This Article

Implications for Clinical Practice

The findings support the need for nurses to assess and understand how cancer survivors perceive and act on their second cancer risk. Nurses need to do more than ask cancer survivors to assign a numerical value to their second cancer risk. Nurses need to ascertain what that second cancer risk means to cancer survivors because each cancer survivor holds valid and different risk perceptions. In addition, nurses need to be aware that providing survivors with current and updated information of cancer risks may not always result in any changes in cancer prevention practices by survivors. From the current study and previous research, it remains unclear as to whether increasing the accuracy of risk perception will lead to behavior changes such as increased participation in cancer screening.[6,8]

Another implication of the study findings for nursing practice is that nurses need to consider how living with risk unfolds through cancer survivors' life course and within their social environment. A life-course perspective could inform the timing of interventions regarding the needs, risks, and opportunities to change at a particular time in the life course. Nurses also need to connect cancer survivors' past cancer experiences to the present risk assessment so as to examine their second cancer risk perceptions in their context.


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