Purpose: Rural cancer survivors have poorer experiences and health outcomes compared to their urban counterparts. There is limited research on the post-treatment experiences of UK cancer survivors residing in rural areas. This study aimed to provide an understanding of the specific challenges and opportunities faced by rural cancer survivors and to provide insight into how rurality influences experiences post-primary treatment, ultimately to inform service provision. Methods: A secondary analysis of in-depth interview transcripts (n = 16) from a wider study on self-management in cancer survivors was conducted. An adapted version of Foster and Fenlon’s recovery of health and wellbeing in cancer survivorship framework informed the data coding. Results: Health and wellbeing were interrupted by a variety of problem incidents, and the subsequent steps to recovery were influenced by pre-existing, personal, environmental, and healthcare factors. A prominent theme was support, both from local communities and family as well as from healthcare professionals, with many survivors feeling that their rural setting had a positive influence on their health and wellbeing. Close relationships with local GPs were seen as fundamental to supporting recovery. Access to healthcare was frequently mentioned as a challenge with an emphasis on lengthy travel times and limited bespoke support in rural areas. Conclusions: This study is novel in that it applied a well-established theoretical framework to a rich qualitative dataset on the lived experiences of rural cancer survivors. Rural residency influenced recovery from cancer both positively and negatively. Implications for Cancer Survivors: Future practitioners and policy makers should consider working with local communities to tailor interventions to the specific characteristics of the rural environment.

University of Lincoln, College of Social Science Research

Florence Graham, Universities of Nottingham and Lincoln, Lincoln Medical School

Ros Kane, University of Lincoln, School of Health and Social Care

Mark Gussy, University of Lincoln, Lincoln International Institute for Rural Health

David Nelson, University of Lincoln, Lincoln International Institute for Rural Health and Macmillan Cancer Support