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The number of cancer survivors in the United States is expected to grow to 18 million by 2020 because of improved cancer treatment outcomes and the aging of the population.[1] Many cancer survivors are at increased risk for cancer recurrence and other adverse long-term physical and psychosocial conditions.[2-5] Disparities in survival are associated with inadequate or no health insurance coverage because individuals are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer at later stages,[6] and higher incidence for some cancers among African Americans.[7] Few studies have examined psychosocial health disparities during cancer survivorship,[8-13] and little is known about how psychosocial factors subsequent to diagnosis affect survival and long-term outcomes. [4,14]

While clinical care relevant to survivorship outcomes is advancing, [15, 16] optimal practices for preparing survivors for treatment and transitioning off treatment have yet to be defined. [11, 15, 17] Furthermore, guidance is needed for serving minority and underserved survivor populations where health disparities exist.[7] More data are needed about incidence of adverse outcomes and their determinants, overall and in disparity populations to inform development of best practices for preventive interventions.

The purpose of this study was to identify similarities and differences among two groups of survivors in (1) sources of information at time of cancer diagnosis, (2) sources of support used during and after treatment, (3) stressors and challenges during and after treatment, and (4) coping strategies[18] used during and following cancer treatment. These factors might be associated with health services use,[19] and with survivorship disparities.[20] One group was treated at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC), an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center, and the other at Meharry Medical College (MMC), its partner medical setting that serves patients who are mostly publicly-insured and uninsured. Secondary analysis of data from focus group participants was undertaken to address the four study topics and to guide future development of interventions tailored to preferences and needs of diverse survivors.

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