Friendship and Cancer

Rebecca Evans, Pascal Mallet, Cécile Bazillier, Phillipe Amiel



Friendships are a powerful healing force for physical and mental illness. The study of the role of friendship for cancer patients has been relatively neglected and academic evidence-based studies are lacking. A literature review of research was performed linking cancer with friendships and social support (other than that provided by family members or members of medical staff). Some studies report the importance of friendships formed amongst young children and often in a school context; fewer studies have focused on friendships amongst adults with cancer. Direct links between friendships formed and/or maintained amongst cancer patients and their precise effects on an individual’s battle with cancer have yet to be explored.


Friendship; Cancer; Social support

Full Text



  • No author listed. Research in the behavioural and social sciences to improve cancer control and care: a strategy for development. Eur J Cancer 2004: 40: 316-25
  • World Cancer Research Fund International. Cancer facts & figures – Worlwide Data. Avilable at: (last accessed February 2015)
  • Richardson A, Addington-Hall J, Amir Z, et al. Knowledge, ignorance and priorities for research in key areas of cancer survivorship: findings from a scoping review. Br J Cancer 2011; 8: S82-94;
  • Brearley SG, Stamataki Z, Addington-Hall J, et al. The physical and practical problems experienced by cancer survivors: A rapid review and synthesis of the literature. Eur J Oncol Nurs 2011; 15: 204-12;
  • Low CA, Stanton AL, Thompson N, et al. Contextual life stress and coping strategies as predictors of adjustment to breast cancer survivorship. Ann Behav Med 2006; 32: 235-44
  • Taylor SE, Falke RL, Shoptaw SJ, et al. Social support, support groups, and the cancer patient. J Consult Clin Psychol 1986; 54: 608-15
  • Astrow AB. The light Within: The extraordinary friendship of a doctor and patient brought together by cancer. Psycho-Oncology 2009; 18: 791-2;
  • Ferreira BES, Garcia A. Aspects of friendship amongst adolescents suffering from diabetes and cancer. Estudos de Psicologia (Campinas) 2008; 25: 293-301
  • Feigenberg L, Hort P. Terminal care: friendship contracts with dying cancer patients. New York: Brunner and Mazel, 1980
  • Fraser D. Strangers in their own land: friendship issues when children have cancer. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs 2003; 3: 147-53;
  • Goodwin JS, Hunt WC, Key CR, et al. The effect of marital status on stage, treatment and survival of cancer patients. JAMA 1987; 258: 3125-30
  • Foster C, Wright D, Hill H, et al. Psychosocial implications of living 5 years or more following a cancer diagnosis: a systematic review of the research evidence. Eur J Cancer Care (Engl) 2009; 18: 223-47;
  • Vivar CG, McQueen A. Informational and emotional needs of long-term survivors of breast cancer. J Adv Nurs 2005; 51: 520-8
  • Suzuki LK, Kato PM. Psychosocial Support for Patients in Pediatric Oncology: The Influences of Parents, Schools, Peers, and Technology. J Pediatr Oncol Nurs 2003; 20: 159-74
  • DuHamel KN, Redd WH, Vickberg SM.. Behavioral interventions in the diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of children with cancer. Acta Oncol 1999; 38: 719-34
  • Chekryn J, Deegan M, Reid J. Normalizing the return to school of the child with cancer. J Assoc Pediatr Oncol Nurses 1986; 3: 20-4
  • Varni JW, Katz ER, Colegrove R Jr, et al. Perceived social support and adjustment of children with newly diagnosed cancer. J Dev Behav Pediatr 1994; 15: 20-6
  • Ritchie MA. Sources of emotional support for adolescents with cancer. J Pediatr Oncol Nurs 2001; 18: 105-10
  • Deasy-Spinetta P. School issues and the child with cancer. Cancer 1993; 71: 3261-4
  • Enskär K, Carlsson M, Golsäter M, et al. Symptom distress and life situation in adolescents with cancer. Cancer Nurs 1997; 20: 23-33
  • Noll RB, Bukowski WM, Davies WH, et al. Adjustment in the peer system of adolescents with cancer: A two-year study. J Pediatr Psychol 1993; 18: 351-64
  • Dunsmore J, Quine, S. Information, support, and decision-making needs and preferences of adolescents with cancer: Implications for health professionals. Journal of Psychosocial Oncology 1995; 13: 39-56; http://dx.doi.prg/10.1300/J077V13N04_03
  • Bluebond-Langner M, Perkel D, Goertzel T. Pediatric cancer patients’ peer relationships: The impact of an oncology camp experience. Journal of Psychosocial Oncology 1991; 9: 67-80;
  • Mattsson E, Lindgren B, Von Essen L. Are there any positive consequences of childhood cancer? A review of the literature. Acta Oncol 2008; 47: 199-206;
  • Karian VE, Jankowski SM, Beal JA, et al. Exploring the lived experience of childhood cancer survivors. J Pediatr Oncol Nurs 1998; 15: 153-62
  • Gray RE, Doan BD, Shermer P, et al. Psychologic adaptation of survivors of childhood cancer. Cancer 1992; 70: 2713-21
  • Mackie E, Hill J, Kondryn H, et al. Adult psychosocial outcomes in long-term survivors of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and Wilms’ tumour: A controlled study. Lancet 2000; 355: 1310-4
  • Barrera M, Shaw AK, Speechley KN. Educational and social late effects of childhood cancer and related clinical, personal, and familial characteristics. Cancer 2005; 104: 1751-60
  • Sloper T, Larcombe IJ, Charlton A. Psychosocial adjustment of five-year survivors of childhood cancer. J Cancer Educ 1994; 9: 163-9
  • Vannatta K, Gartstein MA, Short A, et al. A controlled study of peer relationships of children surviving brain tumors: Teacher, peer, and self ratings. J Pediatr Psychol 1998; 23: 279-87
  • Vannatta K, Zeller M, Noll RB, et al. Social functioning of children surviving bone marrow transplantation. J Pediatr Psychol 1998; 23: 169-78.
  • Ceria CD1, Masaki KH, Rodriguez BL, et al. The relationship of psychosocial factors to total mortality among older Japanese-American men: the Honolulu Heart Program. J Am Geriatr Soc 2001; 49: 725-31
  • Kawachi I, Colditz GA, Ascherio A. A prospective study of social networks in relation to total mortality and cardiovascular disease in men in the USA. J Epidemiol Community Health 1996; 50: 245-51
  • Olsen, O. Impact of social network on cardiovascular mortality in middle aged Danish men. J Epidemiol Community Health 1993; 47: 176-80
  • Reynolds P, Kaplan GA. Social connections and risk for cancer: prospective evidence from the Alameda County Study. Behav Med 1990; 16: 101-10
  • Maunsell E, Brisson J, Deschênes L. Social support and survival among women with breast cancer. Cancer 1995; 76: 631-7
  • Johansen C, Schou G, Soll-Johanning H, et al. Influence of marital status on survival from colon and rectal cancer in Denmark. Br J Cancer 1996; 74: 985-8
  • Kato I, Tominaga S, Ikari A. The role of socioeconomic factors in the survival of patients with gastrointestinal cancers. Jpn J Clin Oncol 1992; 22: 270-7
  • Kvikstad A, Vatten LJ, Tretli S. Widowhood and divorce in relation to overall survival among middle-aged Norwegian women with cancer. Br J Cancer 1995; 71: 1343-7
  • Villingshøj M, Ross L, Thomsen B. Does marital status and altered contact with the social network predict colorectal cancer survival? Eur J Cancer 2006; 42: 3022-7
  • De Boer MF, Ryckman RM, Pruyn JF, et al. Psychosocial correlates of cancer relapse and survival: a literature review. Patient Educ Couns 1999; 37: 215-30
  • Hou WK, Lam WW, Law CC, et al. Measuring social relational quality in colorectal cancer: the Social Relational Quality Scale (SRQS). Psychooncology 2009; 18: 1097-105;
  • Ross L, Boesen EH, Dalton SO, et al. Mind and cancer: does psychosocial intervention improve survival and psychological well-being? Eur J Cancer 2002; 38: 1447-57
  • Fromer MJ. Surviving childhood cancer: A guide for families. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, 1998
  • Ladd GW. Having friends, keeping friends, making friends and being liked by peers in the classroom: Predictors of children’s early school adjustment? Child Dev 1990; 61: 1081-100
  • Meyer LH, Bevan-Brown J. (2000). Supporting social relationships: Partnerships and friendships. In D. Fraser, R. Moltzen & K. Ryba (Eds.), Learners with special needs in Aotearoa New Zealand (2nd ed.). Palmerston North: Dunmore Press, 2000; pp. 147-180
  • Noll RB, Bukowski WM, Davies WH, Peer relationships of children with cancer. Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation Newsletter 1992; 16: 1-4
  • Hall LJ, McGregor JA. A follow-up study of the peer relationships of children with disabilities in an inclusive school. The Journal of Special Education 2000; 34: 114-126
  • Lynam MJ. Supporting one another: the nature of family work when a young adult has cancer. J Adv Nurs 1995; 22: 116-25
  • Isaksen AS. 1370 Fellow patients—their significance for hospitalized cancer patients. Eur J Cancer 1995; 31(Supplement 6): 289
  • Trevino KM, Maciejewski PK, Fasciano K, et al. Coping and Psychological Distress in Young Adults With Advanced Cancer. J Support Oncol 2012; 10: 124-30;
  • Kyngäs H, Mikkonen R, Nousiainen EM, et al. Coping with the onset of cancer: coping strategies and resources of young people with cancer. Eur J Cancer Care (Engl) 2001; 10: 6-11
  • Dunkel-Schetter C, Feinstein LG, Taylor SE, et al. Patterns of coping with cancer. Health Psychol 1992; 11: 79-87
  • Ream E, Pedersen V, Oakley C, et al. Unrecognised and Underprepared: an Exploratory Mixed Method Study of Informal Carers’ Experiences of Supporting Someone Through Chemotherapy. Eur J Cancer 2011; 47: 14-15
  • Bond MH, Leung K, Au A, et al. Culture-level dimensions of social axioms and their correlates across 41 cultures. Journal of Cross Cultural Psychology 2004; 35: 548-70;


Abstract: 1878 views
HTML: 2585 views
PDF: 424 views


  • There are currently no refbacks.