Self-identity, lived experiences, and challenges of breast, cervical, and prostate cancer survivorship in Mexico: A qualitative study

Felicia Marie Knaul, Svetlana V. Doubova, María Cecilia Gonzalez Robledo, Alessandra Durstine, Gabriela Sophia Pages, Felicia Casanova, Hector Arreola-Ornelas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Qualitative research on cancer patients' survivor-identity and lived experiences in low- and middle-income countries is scarce. Our study aimed at exploring the concept and experience of survivorship for Mexicans living with breast, cervical, and prostate cancer. Methods: We conducted a qualitative study in Mexico City, Morelos, Nuevo León, and Puebla. The participants were breast, cervical, and prostate cancer patients ≥18 years of age with completed primary cancer treatment. Data were collected via in-depth interviews and analyzed using an inductive thematic approach. Results: The study included 22 participants with a history of breast, 20 cervical, and 18 prostate cancer. Participants accepted the term "cancer survivor"as a literal interpretation of being alive, medical confirmation of treatment completion, or achievement of a clinical result possibly indicative of cure. The majority of respondents perceived that the future is out of their control and under God's will. They linked cure to divine intervention and did not demonstrate the sense of empowerment that is often associated with the survivorship term. The principal themes of their narratives encompass: 1) adverse physical and sexual experiences; 2) emotional problems; 3) cancer-related stigma; 4) challenges to obtaining health-related information; 5) financial hardship; and 6) experience of strengthening family ties in order to provide them with support. In addition, women with breast cancer reported distress caused by changes in body image and positive experience with support groups. Conclusion: In Mexico, cancer patients report complex survivorship experiences that demand post-treatment follow-up and support. There is the need to implement comprehensive, culturally-relevant survivorship programs focused on emotional, informational, and in-kind support and empowerment of cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number577
JournalBMC Cancer
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 22 2020


  • Cancer
  • Challenges
  • Experiences
  • Mexico
  • Self-identity
  • Survivorship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Self-identity, lived experiences, and challenges of breast, cervical, and prostate cancer survivorship in Mexico: A qualitative study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this