A cancer rumor is collective sense making in response to uncertainty or threat regarding a cancer diagnosis. This study explored the types of cancer rumors in circulation, how these rumors spread, why people believed them, and how people made sense of these rumors in order to cope. Web survey responses from 188 participants found that both negative and positive rumors were spread. These rumors were believed due to perceived source credibility and plausibility. While participants held more faith in medical sources, 71 percent changed their behavior after hearing a rumor from a non-medical person. Results suggested that rumor participation aided coping with the disease and its many possible outcomes.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Cancer--Psychological aspects; Rumor; Information behavior; Social psychology

Publication Date


Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

Department of Communication (CLA)


Pugliese, Rudy

Advisor/Committee Member

Jenkins, Keith

Advisor/Committee Member

DiFonzo, Nicholas


Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works. Physical copy available through RIT's The Wallace Library at: RC262 .R62 2008


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