Posttraumatic Stress and Posttraumatic Growth in Cancer Survivorship: A Review

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Cancer survivors report that cancer can elicit symptoms of traumatic stress, but also personal growth. Although most survivors do not meet criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder, traumatic stress symptomatology in the form of intrusive thoughts about the disease, avoidance of reminders of cancer, and hyper-vigilance are commonly reported by survivors after treatment completion. Posttraumatic growth resulting from cancer is also frequently reported by survivors. This review examines theory and evidence for posttraumatic stress and posttraumatic growth related to cancer. Predictors, temporal course, and interventions to reduce traumatic stress and enhance growth are described. The review concludes with recommendations for addressing posttraumatic stress and posttraumatic growth in the clinical setting.

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