Relational cultural theory and cancer: Addressing the social well-being of a growing population.

The widespread prevalence of cancer makes it likely that mental health providers will work with cancer patients or survivors at some point during their careers. Cancer survivors have identified unique challenges that cancer may create in their ability to feel connected to others postdiagnosis. Societal representations of cancer as a disease to be conquered or otherwise feared and associated with death add further layers of potential social isolation for cancer survivors. This article offers a synthesis of prior research on cancer survivors’ social functioning to highlight Relational Cultural Theory (RCT) as a relevant framework for addressing the unique social concerns that cancer survivors may face in maintaining authentic and mutual relationships. RCT offers a complex integration of interpersonal and cultural dynamics to address cancer survivors’ risks for disconnection, isolation, and social stigma. A case example illustrates the relevance and application of RCT for cancer survivors’ social well-being. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)