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Little is known about how young adults disclose their cancer diagnosis to family and friends, and whether there are similarities or differences between men and women. This article compares young adults' experiences of disclosing a cancer diagnosis, drawing on narrative interviews with 37 respondents aged 18 to 34 years. Most respondents were open about their diagnosis, and there were striking similarities in the difficulties that men and women described and in their desire to protect relatives. However, men made up most of the minority of respondents who were more secretive about their diagnosis. Men also made more explicit connections between their gendered identity and disclosure; worries about being perceived differently by peers resulted in some men hiding their diagnosis and others using humor to pre-empt sympathy. These findings are discussed in the context of gender stereotypes of "expressive" women and "stoical" men. © 2009 The Author(s).

Original publication




Journal article


Qualitative Health Research

Publication Date





744 - 754