People with cancer are stigmatized in many societies. Research investigating the causes and consequences of cancer stigma has grown rapidly; however, due to a lack of agreement among researchers as to how to conceptualize and examine cancer stigma, it is difficult to draw connections among the findings in the current cancer stigma literature. In this review, the authors developed one potential conceptual framework in an attempt to summarize/organize the existing findings. Common themes emerged at each stage of cancer stigma proposed in the framework: (1) six different dimensions of stigma that explain why patients with cancer are likely to be stigmatized, (2) negative stereotypes, prejudice toward, and discrimination against patients with cancer among the general populations, family or significant others, and health professionals, and (3) patients’ poor psychological well-being and negative health-related behaviors. The utilization of the framework in the future cancer stigma intervention research is discussed.
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