Knowledge, beliefs and attitudes of kidney transplant recipients regarding their risk of cancer

Narelle C. Williams, Allison Tong, Kirsten Howard, Jeremy R Chapman, Jonathan C. Craig, Germaine Wong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: Despite an increased risk of cancer post transplant, little is known about the knowledge, beliefs of and attitudes to cancer and its prevention among kidney transplant recipients. This study aims to explore these beliefs and attitudes, to better understand patient motives and potential barriers to early detection of cancer. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 14 kidney and eight kidney-pancreas transplant recipients based at a single transplant centre in Sydney, Australia, between October 2009 and February 2010. Results: Thematic data analysis identified four major themes: (1) skin cancer-focused: participants were generally only aware about their increased risk of skin cancer and available prevention strategies for that cancer alone; (2) limited awareness: participants knew little about their excess risk for non-skin cancers and possible preventative and screening strategies; (3) fear of cancer: cancer fears were heightened by prior experiences; some felt vulnerable to cancer and perceived that cancer outcomes were worse than kidney disease; and (4) prioritizing present health issues: participants believed cancer was not imminent and had limited capacity to absorb information about long-term risks, particularly as current health concerns appeared pressing and important. Conclusion: Awareness of increased cancer risk and cancer screening among kidney transplant recipients is focused narrowly on skin cancer, with limited awareness for other cancers. Recipients prioritized current health issues rather than future risks to health such as cancer. Transplant care providers should provide evidence-based information on cancer risk and screening, being sensitive to the timing and needs of the patient. Improved knowledge may empower patients to minimize their risk of cancer by participating in screening and cancer prevention programmes. Williams et al. raise the issue of patient perception of malignancy post-renal transplantation. The patients interviewed had some knowledge of skin malignancy, but not much about other malignancies. The discussion highlights the need to address deficiencies in patient education and to further address patient behaviour post transplant.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300-306
Number of pages7
Issue number3
Early online date15 Dec 2011
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


  • cancer
  • cancer screening
  • kidney transplantation


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