Rural Dwellers' Cancer Fears and Perceptions of Cancer Treatment


Address correspondence to Mary E. Burman, Ph.D., R.N., C.S., F.N.P., School of Nursing. University of Wyoming, P.O. Box 3065, Laramie, WY 82071-3065.


Abstract The purpose of this study was to explore differences in cancer fears and perceptions of cancer treatment among four rural groups: men with cancer, men caregivers, women with cancer, and women caregivers (N= 590). The four groups differed in their cancer fears. About half or less feared pain, nausea, body disfigurement, and sexual problems from cancer. Over two-thirds were worried about finances and decreases in quality of life. More worried about separation from loved ones than worried about death. The four groups differed only slightly in perceptions of treatment. The majority thought chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation were important treatments. A larger percentage saw nutritional interventions and biologicals as unimportant in cancer prevention or treatment. Nurses need to address fears and perceptions of cancer treatment with persons experiencing cancer and their families. In addition, these persons and their families need support for decisions regarding cancer treatment.