Who Is a Cancer Survivor? A Systematic Review of Published Definitions

Chiara Marzorati, Silvia Riva, Gabriella Pravettoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The term “cancer survivor” is commonly used by different persons, clinical institutions, academic bodies, and political organizations although it lacks of a unanimous and detailed definition. The objective of the study is to make a systematic review of published and proposed definitions of “cancer survivor.” Utilizing a systematic search strategy with different strings of “cancer survivor,” we searched the following databases: Medline (June 1975–June 2015), Scopus (all the years), Web of Science (all the years), Google Scholar (all the years), ERIC (all the years). This review suggests that there is not a unique definition of who is a “cancer survivor” and what is “cancer survivorship.” However, the most widely used definition sees cancer survivorship as a process that begins at the moment of diagnosis and continues through the balance of life. This definition highlights psychological and legal patient’s needs—as well as medical ones—to receive care and assistance from the beginning and, at the same time, it establishes valid criteria for making scientific and statistical sampling research. The extensive use of the term “cancer survivor” indicates that it is a significant term. This review has been written to outline the state of the art and it invites to reflect on a shared definition that could satisfy both clinical and research aspects. Implication for cancer survivors: this compendium of proposed definitions may improve communication among the many patients and patient organizations that use and work with this term.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Cancer Education
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Feb 8 2016


  • Cancer
  • Cancer survivor
  • Communication
  • Psychological aspects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Oncology


Dive into the research topics of 'Who Is a Cancer Survivor? A Systematic Review of Published Definitions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this