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Why did I get cancer? Perceptions of childhood cancer survivors in Korea


This study explored whether and how childhood cancer survivors in Korea ask and resolve the question of what may have caused their cancer. Thirty-one childhood cancer survivors participated in in-depth interviews about their self-questioning process in this regard. The findings indicate that Korean childhood cancer survivors pondered this question alone due to the stigma attached to cancer in the family and society. Their answers included internal factors (doing “bad things,” having unhealthy eating habits, engaging in magical thinking, having a stress-prone personality, or having a biological susceptibility) or external factors (stressors, random events, the environment, or medical conditions). How they perceived the cause of cancer had an impact on aspects of their current lives.

Psychosocial care standards or guidelines are needed in regard to the provision of a safe environment in which Korean cancer survivors and their parents can share their perceptions and process their thoughts.


Yi, J., Kim, M. A., Parsons, B., & Wu, T. P. (2018). Why did I get cancer? Perceptions of childhood cancer survivors in Korea. Social Work in Health Care, 51(4), pp. 300-314.

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Last Updated: 12/12/23